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Reader letter: Why we should welcome more than 50 refugees to Norwich

PUBLISHED: 18:14 13 December 2016 | UPDATED: 18:14 13 December 2016

Refugees are desperate to reach western Europe where they hope they will be able to live a better life. Picture: PA/jonathan brady

Refugees are desperate to reach western Europe where they hope they will be able to live a better life. Picture: PA/jonathan brady

Archant

I was at Norwich Cathedral recently for a most moving occasion; we sat in a circle in the east end, under the ancient stone vaulting, and listened to refugee stories.

Marija Vranesevic, from Serbia, told us of the amazing job her organisation, Philanthropy, a partner of Christian Aid, is doing to maintain a dignified existence for the sad, frightened families who are halted in their tracks by closed borders, and then are prey to people-traffickers.

We tied ribbons to barbed wire to symbolise our commitment to help them. Salar and a young UEA student spoke to us – Salar told of his fearful journey from Egypt, when he nearly lost his small daughter in the Mediterranean, and spoke of his intense gratitude to the people of Norwich for giving his family a home.

He wants to work to pay back his “debt”. The young student came from Iraq a year or so ago, with no English, and, now fluent, told us of his pride in being able to continue his education. He, too, said thank you over and over...It felt good.

We know that most refugees are like us, and want the same things out of life. We know that most people in Norfolk are kind and generous, and want to help a desperate family.

The young Iraqi reminded us that Norwich has always welcomed strangers – some of the first brought our Canaries! So, let’s tell our city council that we want to do more for strangers, from Syria and elsewhere. We want to show our generosity this Christmas, to those who, like Jesus and his parents were 2,000 years ago, are fleeing danger, persecution or poverty. 
We want more than a mere 50 people to be offered a safe place in our City of Sanctuary! Let’s shout the message to our representatives! And if you want to help Christian Aid enable Marija to save more families this winter, go to christianaid.org.uk/christmas-appeal or call 0845 7000 300. 
A happy Christmas to everyone.

• Frances Middleton, Honingham, Norwich

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