A top BBC reporter last night praised the Jewish community’s “generous response” to the Afghan refugee crisis during a moving event heralding the official merger of two charities leading Jewish voices on race & asylum.
Yalda Hakim, chief presenter on BBC News, whose parents fled Afghanistan when she was a baby, said: “I am so grateful for the work your organisations do for the Afghan community. I know many synagogues were full of clothes, nappies and food for the families who arrived in this country.”
The award-winning foreign correspondent currently anchors the flagship program ‘Impact with Yalda Hakim’ on BBC World News.
HIAS+JCORE which focus on supporting refugees and asylum seekers, opted to merge last year following the devastating scenes in the Ukraine.
Their joint aim is to enhance the UK Jewish response to issues of asylum, refugees, and racial equality.
Addressing over 200 guests, Adam Rose, Chair of HIAS+JCORE, explained: “Joining forces with HIAS enables JCORE to do more campaigning with a louder voice and a bigger reach.
“With this new arrangement, we gain access to a more global platform as part of a worldwide campaign and network of activists.”
London-based JCORE, the Jewish Council for Racial Equality, has provided a Jewish voice on race and asylum issues for nearly fifty years. Across the pond, HIAS, originally the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, was founded in 1881 to support Jews fleeing persecution and poverty in Eastern Europe.
Upon merging, critical support will be provided to forcibly displaced people in 23 countries across Africa, Europe, the Americas and the Middle East.
Additional capacity will also bolster programmes including JCORE’s befriending project for young unaccompanied asylum-seekers.
Mark Hetfield, president and CEO of HIAS, added: “The refugee convention of 1951 was written out of the ashes of the Holocaust to ensure that never again would anyone be trapped inside their country of persecution.
“As Jews we have an obligation to protect the human right to seek asylum. HIAS joining with JCORE is proud to be part of a global response working together to welcome the stranger.”
Dr. Edie Friedman, JCORE’s founder and executive director, received the loudest cheer upon saying: “Now we are facing our biggest challenge, the UK’s Illegal Migration Bill. I think it is important that we call out this legislation and the Rwandan scheme for what they are: truly shameful.”
Dr Friedman was later presented with the inaugural ‘Lord Dubs Award’, a new annual award celebrating major contributions to improving race relations and refugee rights.
The event concluded with the formal introduction of HIAS+JCORE’s new executive director, Rabbi David Mason.
The outgoing Muswell Hill shul rabbi said: “I want to mobilise the whole UK Jewish community to support refugees and asylum seekers, as well as for a society that combats all forms of racism along with growing antisemitism.”
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