Asylum debate is damaging community relations, say bishops

 Community relations are being damaged by the current debate over the treatment of asylum seekers, the bishops said. In some, instances this is leading to hostility and fear. Discussing the statement, Bishop Patrick O'Donoghue, who chairs the Bishops' committee for migrants said: "the government must educate the general public about these refugees - where they have come from; and the appalling conditions, the ethnic cleansing, the wars and the persecution they are fleeing." The bishops said the UK must fulfil its obligations under the 1951 UN Refugee Convention and other international humanitarian laws, and maintain their committment to the 1999 All-Party Declaration of Good Practice on Asylum. Their statement comments on the contribution many refugees have made to the spiritual, economic and social well being of the UK. They call for a balanced approach from all sections of British Society - in particular from politicians and the media - to ensure asylum seekers are treated with compassion and dignity.