‘Syrian refugees are facing some of the worse conditions in history. Over 2.5 million have been displaced, more than half of whom are women, children and the elderly,” says Dr Hojjat Ramzy, representative of the Muslims in Oxford and campaigner for the safety of Syrian refugees.

“Not only do they face the dangers of severe winter weather, but also disease and increasing violence and abuse, all of which put their lives at great risk. They need safety and this is no longer to be found in Syria or neighbouring countries.

“And yet, the British Government has rejected calls to admit refugees of the Syrian conflict to the UK, despite having signed the 1951 UN Convention on Refugees.

“Whilst the UK Government has pledged a large amount of financial aid, Muslims across the UK are extremely distressed by the Government’s stance regarding the admission of refugees and call upon them to listen to the plight of those in such dire need. Whilst financial aid is certainly necessary, it cannot guarantee the safety that asylum can.

“To refuse this prospect to the women, children and the elderly in such deadly, frightening circumstances is inhumane.”

Dr Ramzy continued: “We, members of the Muslim and non-Muslim communities of Oxford and beyond, urge the Government to honour the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (CRSR), and to lead the way in offering the refugees of the Syrian crisis safety from the deadly conditions they are living in.

“The British Government, which is usefully at the forefront of such humanitarian efforts, should at least offer asylum to the women, children and the elderly, who are most vulnerable in times of crisis. We ask members of all faiths and none to bring their local communities on board. We beseech the Bishops, Rabbis and other faith leaders to pray for peace and to help us in this mission of opening the UK’s doors to those Syrian families in need. In particular, we ask the Bishop of Oxford, Bishop John Pritchard, a great and kind-hearted man, to join us in this effort.”

Andrew Smith, MP for Oxford East, has already agreed to take up this issue with the Prime Minister. We plea to all citizens of the county and beyond to petition your MPs and urge them to support this Convention and take action to save lives.

“Members of all faiths and walks of life should stand together and lead the way in helping people facing such terrible circumstances and offer them a beacon of hope in these dark times. In the spirit of this festive season, let us give those suffering a chance for joy and happiness.