Category: Syria

Charity Starts at Home?

Charity Starts at Home?

Charity Starts at Home?

The amount of times I have had people say this to me, and on social media, and in other forums it’s getting tiresome.   It’s used when I talk about helping refugees and asylum seekers, sadly Christian use it like scripture to me.  It not!  Scripture that is!
Can I ask what do we mean by this, where is home, your little house, your 2.5 children, your street, your country?  What are you talking about?
I supposed I can almost forgive those using the phrase who would not claim to be Christians, or Followers of Jesus, but for those who make both those claims I do have a problem.
Jesus tells us what is commonly called the story of the Good Samaritan. Of course at the time when Christ was walking around in Israel, now self respecting Jew would ever go to Samaria, as the woman at the well said to Jesus, when he asked for a drink of water, “you’re a Jew and you ask me for a drink of water don’t you know that Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans”.   Of course she did not know that Jesus had previously said to his disciples, “I must go through Samaria”; an amazing statement in of itself.
So let me counter that awful get out ‘charity start at home’ by reminding ourselves that Jesus said we are to love our neighbours, and then follows that statement by asking us to decided who are our neighbours, and the answer is not well pleasing to the people who never went to Samaria, as the neighbour turns out to be one of them.
In Africa I was speaking to a group and telling the story of the good Samaritan, I changed the story knowing that I was speaking to people of one particular tribe, and I knew that they hated another tribe so I made in my story the tribal member that helped a member of the hated tribe.  People came up to after the meeting and said, you should not have done that, people hear hate the people of that tribe, don’t you know, err der! Maybe someone should have told Jesus that too.
Recently I had the privilege of going to a regular happening at a local Synagogue, where well over a hundred refugees where being fed, clothed, and financed by the local congregation, every nationality and religion turning up for help.  I asked who is financing this and was told we are, at the moment its costing us about £30,000 a year.
The other very important point that I should make, especially to those who say they are Christians, follower of Jesus, is that Jesus commanded us to ‘love our enemies’.
So next time I say we need to be helping, caring for those pushed out by war be it from Syria, Eritrea or wherever,  I know that I have responsibility for my family, but maybe that other statement of Jesus is apposite ‘that you should do but this you should do also’ please don’t tell me Charity starts at home it’s just plain the wrong response.
Adrian Hawkes
W. 529

Edited Gena Areola

Refugees: the current issues – is there a solution?

Refugees: the current issues – is there a solution?

Refugees: the current issues – is there a solution?

I was privileged to have been able to speak at the United Nations on the subject recently. The reality is that this is the worst refugee crisis since World War Two; actually, in regards of displacement and movement of people, it’s worse. According to UNHCR there are currently 59.5 million displaced people in the world at the moment.

In the UK there is a lot of anti-immigration press, telling us how many “illegal people” there are and the fact that they are taking jobs, school places, and homes. This has created a great deal of tension and distrust.  Many of the figures quoted are not true, and when you look at real figures from reliable sources you find that the story is very different.

There is another story too, that is not being talked about much and that is one that needs to be brought to Europe’s attention. In Europe, UK, Germany, and Italy particularly, there is a need for young workers who pay tax. The reason being that in the UK and other European countries the indigenous populations are getting older.  Most of us have things like state pensions, paid from taxes.  When these were originally introduced with a male retirement age of 65 and female retirement age of 60, life expectancy was between 68 and 69, very different to today predictions. The current life expectancy in the UK is heading towards 100 years. Who is going to pay for all those retired people? Whose taxes will fund it? We need the refugees’ help to do that.  Politicians don’t have very much to say about this.

There is a lot of nonsense being spread around too, that the refugees are just economic migrants. Really? The millions from Syria are just after better jobs are they? I don’t think so!

We also talk about how many are coming to Europe, but in real terms it is only a small percentage of those displaced. In fact, in 2014 the UK took in 31,945 refugees compared with, say, Turkey’s 1. 8 million, or the 600,00 in Jordan. Tiny Lebanon, with a population of just 4 million of its own people, took in 1 million refugees. We need to be talking about the millions in places like Jordan, the overwhelming number in Lebanon and the massive camps in Turkey.  Some politicians tell us, “We are doing our fair share; we are taking a big slice of the cake.” Are we?

We also need to be asking the questions as to why the rich countries like Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia etc., at the moment seem to have no refugees from the war areas of Syria, yet they speak the same language.

Note also that in the Middle East those calling themselves Muslims have killed more people calling themselves Muslims than any other group has.

I note that a friend of mine in Poland has come under quite a bit of flak for persuading the government there to give refugee status to people from these areas that have some kind of Christian background, that we should just take all comers or none.  Well, I think we should, as countries, be taking those in need, but we should note that in many areas it is the minority groups like Christians and the Yazidis who have come under the most pressure. Many have even been thrown overboard and drowned from the boats that they were escaping on, by others who did not like their Christianity.  Many Christian groups also saying that even in the refugee camps the discrimination against them is too hard to bear.

I recently wrote to the UK prime minister with my suggestion for dealing with the problem. Sure, my solution would not deal with the short term issues; for that we have take in refugees. However, these problems are not going away any time soon.  The prime minister’s answer to me and others is that we have to deal with the source. Maybe, but who is going to do that, and in the meantime, what do we do?

My mad suggestion is that we lease land for 99 years and start a new big city; like a new Hong Kong.  We put it under the laws and administration of a country like the UK. We use aid budget to fund jobs in the new land, creating new housing, roads, schools, hospitals and general infrastructure, charging a levy to the EU for asylum seekers that they did not take. The country setting it up has first bite of infrastructure contracts, thus benefiting its GDP.  The new occupants are given passports, possibly stamped and not allowed to work or receive benefits in Europe, a bit like the stamp on Channel Island passports, who of course hold UK passports.  Mad? Of course it is, but we need a mad answer to such a mad situation. I am glad as I watch the global response to such madness, that there are other mad people out there that think this is a possibility. Recently an Egyptian multi-millionaire offered to buy an island to do just what I am suggesting. Another rich philanthropist in the USA also wants to buy an island, and then in the UK Lord David Alton recently put the whole idea to the British House of Lords. (

I started by saying I was privileged to have been able to put the problem to a UN audience recently, but talking is not enough. We have to do something. I am glad that the pressure being put on the government by the ordinary person is having some effect, and note that the UK will now take 20,000 refugees. Even Iceland has offered places for 10,000. In terms of the pressure being put on governments by their populace to do more, at a recent march to put on the pressure in London, I was amused by some of posters. One youngster carried one that said, “A refugee can come and stay at my house and play mine craft.” Though I thought the best was one that said, “We need to be more German,” especially as the UK had just agreed to take 20,000 people over five years on the day that Germany took in 40,000.

Adrian Hawkes


Edited By: Kirsty De Paor