UK 'must not be shamed' to support Ukraine refugees, says Bishop of Ely

Bishop of Ely has spoken on the Russian invasion of Ukraine

The Bishop of Ely, the Right Reverend Stephen Conway, has called for prayer amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine and said the UK “must not be shamed by poorer European countries" for its support for refugees. - Credit: Diocese of Ely/PA

The Bishop of Ely believes the UK “must not be shamed by poorer European countries” in its efforts to support Ukrainians fleeing their home country. 

In an open letter, the Right Reverend Stephen Conway was writing in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. 

“We must not be shamed by poorer European countries in our generous support for refugees,” he said.  

“This means primarily providing willing international aid support for Ukraine's neighbouring states who are welcoming people fleeing violence.” 

The Rt Revd Conway called for prayer and backed the UK to denounce Russia’s actions, which began last week. 

“As we watch with horror the unfolding tragedy in Ukraine, what should our response be as Christians? Our first and last response is to pray,” he said. 

“We must denounce the action of Russia in invading a free democratic country. 

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“It is evil, immediately imperilling every Ukrainian and the families of Russian soldiers, but also the relative peace of Europe which we have known for so long.” 

The Right Reverend Stephen Conway, Bishop of Ely

The Bishop of Ely, the Right Reverend Stephen Conway, has called for prayer amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine and said the UK “must not be shamed by poorer European countries" for its support for refugees. - Credit: Diocese of Ely

A day of prayer was set aside on Sunday, February 27 after calls from the Archbishop of Canterbury and York following the invasion. 

The Rt Revd Conway wished prayer “for the freedom of Ukraine” and backed sanctions made against Russia. 

He said: “Our prayer for peace is a challenge to the whole world, starting with ourselves as we pay attention on many fronts. 

“For sanctions to work at all, they will have to make an impact on our pockets and comforts, perhaps over a sustained period.  

“We need to support Her Majesty’s Government in all efforts to hobble Russian finances and cyber activity here and across the world.” 

The government has introduced temporary visa concessions for family members of British nationals in Ukraine, including waiving the application fees. 

The United Nations have estimated around 368,000 refugees have left Ukraine, with that number expected to rise. 

“We must encourage the government to waive visa rules for Ukrainian citizens who have family and church connections in the UK,” the Rt Revd Conway added. 

“Beyond that, we should reach out to children and young people separated from their families who need particular care regardless of all borders.”