As world leaders meet at the UN in New York today to enhance the protection of refugees and migrants, a group of charities created a ‘lifejacket graveyard’ in Parliament Square, just a stones throw from Methodist Central Hall.
The charities want to remind leaders of the risks families have taken to reach safety, the need for solidarity with refugees, respect of their rights and more international responsibility sharing.
The 2500 lifejackets used in the display were worn by both adult and child refugees and act as a visual reminder of the suffering and risks that thousands of refugees have endured and the need for a concerted international response.
Methodist Central Hall was the venue for the inaugural meeting of the UN General Assembly in 1946 and has an active ministry to refugees through the Welcome Boxes project run by the Cinnamon Trust
Revd Dr Martyn Atkins, Superintendent of Methodist Central Hall Westminster said,
‘I’ve been to Lampedusa and seen children, women and men fished out of the sea and mercifully arrive on dry land. I’ve talked with refugees about what has caused them to make hazardous and uncertain journeys. I regard a co-ordinated, serious, international response to those fellow human beings we call refugees as one of the key issues facing us today, one which challenges our basis understanding of justice, compassion and hospitality and may even come to test our claim to be civilised peoples.’
Deputy Superintendent Minister Revd Tony Miles said, ‘The key question for me is how would I want others to respond to me, if I was on a desperate journey, seeking sanctuary, security and safety?’