Members of St Mary’s and St Paul’s Church Bishopstoke are calling on the Government to act for peace and suspend arms sales to Saudi Arabia as it takes part in Christian Aid’s ‘Be A Peacemaker’ appeal.
More than half of Yemen’s population live on the brink of famine due to war. Church members have signed a giant Christmas card to Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt urging him to suspend UK arms sales to Saudi immediately, work with all parties to cease hostilities and allow humanitarian access to those most in need.
The card, depicting a dove made out of weaponry and ammunition, will join together with others from around the country to build pressure on the Government to stop fuelling the arms trade and instead spend more on peacebuilding.
The Rector, Richard Wise, said:
“We all have a deep longing for peace. We know it’s what the world needs and how it should be – even if we have different views on how to achieve it. We desire it for ourselves and communities like our own. But it’s so easy to think we can’t change things in other parts of the world.
But Christmas won’t allow us to forget about peace. It’s there in so many of the carols we sing and readings we hear at services like Christingle and Midnight Communion. Jesus is described as ‘Prince of Peace’.
We need to pray for peace – and we do that quite a bit as a church. But we also need to take action for peace. As Christians, we believe we’ve been given a task by Jesus to work towards a world where peace prevails, together with the justice, hope, dignity and respect necessary for that.
That’s why we are supporting Christian Aid’s campaign this Christmas. They are not only supporting the work of everyday peacemakers in countries such as Colombia, South Sudan and Lebanon, but are also tackling the source of conflict by putting pressure on the UK Government to consider what it can do to build peace more effectively.
This Christmas – and all the year through – we want to pray and act for peace, both locally and globally.
Everyone is welcome to join us for any of our special Christmas services, and we pray it will be a peaceful one for the people of Bishopstoke and further afield.”
Christian Aid regional coordinator for Hampshire Stephen Dominy said:
“Around 14 million people are affected by catastrophic food shortages in Yemen. According to the United Nations, 400,000 children are on the cusp of dying from hunger, 15,000 more than last year and yet the UK continues to sell arms to the Saudi-led coalition carrying out indiscriminate attacks on civilians there. This is in direct violation of its own international commitments to regulate its arms exports to states acting illegally and repressively.
Any economic gain from arms sales for the UK has huge consequences for Yemen. What the country needs most right now is an immediate end to the fighting.
It’s so important to make a stand for peace in a world where one child in every six will wake up in a conflict zone around the world. And if things continue the way they are, by 2030 more than half of the world’s poorest people will live in countries affected by high levels of violence.
Our hope this Christmas is that we can show people affected by conflict that they are not forgotten and that together we can help build ‘peace on earth’.”
A donation of £10 could pay for arts materials for drama and storytelling therapy sessions for child refugees in Lebanon and £100 could pay for 30 women and girls to learn about protecting themselves from violence and harm in South Sudan. To donate to the appeal visit: www.caid.org.uk/christmas-appeal
Read how Saudi Arms sales helps Eastleigh Borough Council keep Council Tax down here