Refugee children: Why rescuing the innocent victims of war is right and godly

Thousands of Christians from Iraq and Syria have been forced to flee persecution at the hands of ISIS.Reuters

Last night, during a vigil in the historic St Martin-in-the-Fields church on London's Trafalgar Square, prayers were offered on behalf of millions of displaced people, and particularly refugee children. The prayers were prompted by a unique and outstanding photographic artistic installation called The Stations.

This exhibition, which is now open to the public, offers a moving way of engaging with both the Easter story and the refugee crisis, and has been managed by Premier Christianity magazine and Marksteen Adamson, the creative director of the ASHA brand and marketing consultancy. He is no stranger to the plight of refugees.

Perhaps some of the prayers offered last night are beginning to be answered already.

A significant step forward took place yesterday in the House of Lords. Lord Dubs presented a compelling case for the UK to take its fair share of unaccompanied refugee children, who are at serious risk of abduction and abuse as they travel without parental supervision throughout Europe. Lord Dubs himself was a child refugee and was welcomed to the UK as part of the Kindertransport in 1939 that saw 10,000 Jewish children rescued from the hands of the Nazis at the beginning of the Second World War.

Lord Dubs championed an amendment to the Immigration Bill that could see the UK offer safe refuge to vulnerable children caught in the middle of this crisis. The Labour peer drew on research from Save the Children and Europol which calculated that somewhere in the region of 24,000 unaccompanied refugee children are currently in transit in Europe, at risk of being trafficked or abused.

The Bishop of Chelmsford, Rt Rev Stephen Cottrell, added his voice to the motion. He said: "The Church, therefore, with others, asks the Government to work with UNHCR to bring refugee children who are in extreme risk to the UK, in addition to the other pledges that we have made. The hard truth is that at the moment there are no refugee children like this from Europe being resettled in this country... There are also charities such as Home for Good, which helps with the work that we could do. Like the Kindertransport in 1938, we, too, could be part of a story of hope and generosity for children abandoned, bereft, perplexed and in danger in Europe today. This is a small but beautiful thing that we could do."

Station 5 - Outlaw

The amendment passed through the House of Lords 306 to 204 and will now head back to the House of Commons to be voted on by MPs. If passed, it will show that the government is willing to do something for those caught up in dire circumstances beyond their control. It will show the UK is prepared to continue in its rich heritage of rescuing children whose lives are in the most serious danger.

However, with the current debate about the UK's membership of the European Union, and the fear generated by terrible events like the horrific attacks in Belgium today, there is a danger that the plight of refugee children may be side-lined and forgotten. It is important we help our MPs have the political space to follow their consciences on this issue.

We can play our part too in ensuring that caring for vulnerable children bereft of a parent and far from home is seen as a moral responsibility and not a political football.

So what can you do to help keep the public attention on this?

1Visit the Stations Exhibition in Trafalgar Square, Gloucester Cathedral or Spring Harvest and consider buying one of the packs available there, which contain a number of things to help you

2. Watch and share this video on social media.

3. Write to your MP encouraging them to vote in favour of the amendment when it comes to the House of Commons

4. Keep praying

Dr Krish Kandiah is a Contributing Editor to Christian Today and founder and director of Home for Good.