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In recent weeks we have been deeply challenged by reports and images of refugees desperately seeking safety at the risk of their lives.

We note and welcome the recent decision of the Government to admit up to 20,000 refugees from Syria over the next five years.

We also acknowledge the high level of commitment that has been made in the past few years in sustaining the overseas aid budget and the support given to work in the refugee camps in the Middle East.

However, alongside such limited medium and long-term action there is urgent need for immediate aid for those seeking refuge in Europe.

We urge a more generous response.

In the meantime, we are glad to offer, on behalf of the churches of our region, our readiness to contribute local and practical support.

We will be taking immediate steps to mobilise the churches’ contribution to our regional welcome.

We are thankful for the work of many already providing resources to refugees in Calais and we encourage churches to continue to work with them.

We invite you to join us in our commitment to pray for all those who are fleeing to safety from troubled areas of the world, for those who work with them, and for all those in positions of power that they may do their work with compassion and wisdom.

Rt Revd Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham,

Bishop Terry Drainey, Bishop of Middlesbrough along with other North-East church and group leaders.