Cherie Blair speaks out for refugees

 The Prime Minister's wife, Cherie Blair. was guest speaker yesterday at the opening of Harmony House - an education project for asylum seekers in East London - run by the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Mary. In her address she said: "The arrival of refugees in Barking and Dagenham during the nineties urged the Sisters to respond to their founding vision. We are particularly concerned with the plight of women and children in uprooted situations. They have been able to train refugees in childcare and the care of the elderly. One of the great strengths of the project is the fact that local people can take part in the training." The Rt Rev Robert Sainsbury, Moderator of the Churches' Commission for Racial Justice, (CCRJ) and the Rt Rev Thomas McMahon, Catholic Bishop of Brentwood, attended the launch and expressed their appreciation of the project. Bishop McMahon said: "Recently we were told that each person only has 30,000 genes and that the vast majority we hold in common. and there are far fewer genes than was supposed, that differentiate us from one another. This serves to stress and underline our common humanity. Harmony House is a wonderful facility for the whole community and helps us to value and celebrate our differences." The CCRJ are currently conducting a survey on the plight of asylum seekers in the UK. The results will be published in November this year. The secretary of the CCRJ, Rev Arlington Trotman, said: "This research seeks to present the facts about the plight of asylum seekers in the system. The current prohibitive and punitive legislation has been shown not to deter asylum seekers travelling to the UK. Not only have numbers increased - though Britain is tenth in the league of European countries receiving asylum applications - poverty, detention, and deportations of asylum seekers have also increased. The crisis is beyond government alone to solve."l

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