Church of England votes for military action to protect refugee routes

by - 27th November 2015

THE Church of England synod has unanimously backed a motion calling – effectively – for military action in support of the establishment of safe routes for refugees fleeing persecution everywhere.

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby warned delegates on Wednesday that supporting the creation of ‘safe and legal’ routes for refugees ‘essentially commits us to supporting the use of armed force overseas’.

Bishops cheered after the motion, put by the Bishop of Durham Rt Revd Paul Butler, was carried.

Archbishop Welby spelled out clearly that is was likely that establishing ‘safe and legal routes to places of safety’ might lead to military confrontation.

‘The reality of working in those areas to create safe ways must include some kind of forceful response.

‘It is almost impossible to see how it could be done otherwise’, he said.

Referring to the recent Paris massacre, he compared the action required worldwide to the French police having to go into the Bataclan Theatre.

‘The international community has to face the necessity that it may, in certain parts of the world, need to challenge the equivalent people who have not taken a theatre but have taken a whole section of land and are using it to wreak the most terrible havoc and cruelty’, he said.

The scope of the motion was vast. The Archbishop said it could take in ‘much of the lands of the Middle East and in many other parts of the world including north east Nigeria, including Burundi and other places’ where, he said, ‘the forces that are driving people out into being refugees may need to be confronted’.

Bishop Butler said that military support would only extend to action taken to establish safe routes for refugees.

Discussing the wider refugee crisis the Archbishop said: ‘The ideal situation is not simply to create a drain for the people of those countries to escape but also to create the means by which they can stay in prosperity, in flourishing and in safety’.

He was critical of the response of the international community to the refugee crisis.

There had been an 'insufficiently coherent response' bringing together all the forms of action required if what the Prime Minister described as 'an existential crisis’ were to be faced.

The on-going civil war in Syria has led to eight million people displaced internally and over four million people fleeing the country as refugees.