Britain must do more to help Syria, urges Wimbledon Rabbi


Rabbi Sybil Sheridan presented a petition to David Cameron earlier this month.


By Ellie Pipe

A Wimbledon Rabbi insists Britain has a moral duty to help Syria’s refugees.

Rabbi Sybil Sheridan was one of a group of Jewish leaders who presented a 200-strong petition to David Cameron earlier this month, asking the government to accept Syrians fleeing the war-ravaged country.

The letter was instigated by the Jewish Council for Racial Equality (JCORE) and supported by representatives of the Jewish community.

Mounting pressure from organisations is being backed by a number of MPs who say the government should accept the UN’s request for Britain to take in more refugees.

Rabbi Sheridan, of Wimbledon and District Synagogue, says that Britain has not done enough and stresses that we have a moral responsibility to help innocent victims of war.

“The British nation owes its existence, its strength and its freedom to the fact that is has always been a haven forasylum seekers from religious and other persecutions who have come and made their homes and a success of their livelihoods here,” she said.

Despite current peace talks in Geneva, there is no reprieve for the people embroiled in Syria’s conflict and latest figures on the Human Care Syria website put refugee numbers at well over 2million.

Rabbi Sheridan added that refugee camps are no long term solution.

“They encourage a life of dependency on aid. It saps away at self-respect, deprives children of any real educational opportunities and makes any future look bleak,” she said.

“The refugees need a place, a country where they can earn a living, engage with others and contribute.”

She praised the empathy of the British people who have responded well to the Syrian crisis but says it is up to the government to do more.

“The decision not to accept refugees is a political one made with an eye to future electability, and is pandering to the baser instincts among the electorate rather than take the lead with compassion, integrity and a genuine sense of humanity,” she said.

The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) is appealing for Western countries to take in 30,000 displaced Syrian people.

Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions this week, David Cameron said that the UK is fulfilling its moral obligation to Syrian refugees.

Britain has so far accepted over 1,000 asylum seekers who have fled from Syria.

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