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Belfast city Solidarity Sleep-Out highlights the plight of refugees to launch Christian Aid Week 2017

12 May 2017 - Christian Aid Week 2017 was launched today with a Solidarity Sleep-Out in Belfast city centre to remember the millions of people worldwide who have been forced from home by conflict.

Christian Aid Week 2017 was launched today with a Solidarity Sleep-Out in Belfast city centre to remember the millions of people worldwide who have been forced from home by conflict.

The overseas aid organisation has been joined by members of the public in Buoy Park, Belfast city centre, who will sleep out from 12pm today (Friday 12th May) to 12pm tomorrow (Saturday 13 May) in solidarity with the millions of people who have fled violence and war.

This year’s Christian Aid Week, which is highlighting the refugee crisis, runs until Saturday 20 May, with house-to-house collections and fundraising events taking place across the country. 

Launching Christian Aid Week, Rosamond Bennett, CEO of Christian Aid Ireland, said:

'Christian Aid Week began 60 years ago to support the aid effort helping refugees fleeing war in Europe. In the decades since then, it has continued to raise millions of pounds to help people in need.

'Six decades on, there are still millions of families – mothers, fathers and children – who are running from conflict, danger and persecution around the world in search of a safe place to call home. We’re here together today to say that they have been running for long enough and that we remain committed to helping them. We are not turning our backs now and neither are the people of Northern Ireland.'

According to the UNHCR, 65.3 million people have been forcibly displaced from their homes. 68% of them are being hosted by some of the poorest countries in the world in the Middle East and Africa, compared to just 6% in Europe. Syrians continue to be the largest group of refugees worldwide.

Rosamond Bennett said:

'So many people have undertaken long and treacherous journeys in fear for their lives, only to face long stays in cramped tents and refugee camps. Many are trapped, unable to travel onwards or to go home.

'Christian Aid supporters are taking part in today’s sleep out to demonstrate their support for war-weary people, who spend every single night in poor, cramped conditions.

'We’re incredibly grateful for the generosity and goodwill of our supporters, including churches, communities and volunteers, each Christian Aid Week, and we look forward to an inspiring week of collections, Big Brekkies and Coffee Mornings that will raise vital funds for life-changing work with people in need.'

Today’s Solidarity Sleep-Out will be attended by local politicians and church leaders. Members of the public are invited to visit a photo exhibition about the refugee crisis in Buoy Park.

To help to change lives this Christian Aid Week, support your local house-to-house collection by making a donation into your Christian Aid red envelope, donate online at www.christianaid.ie or call 028 90 648133 (Northern Ireland). 

For media queries contact:

Meabh Smith
Head of Communications
Christian Aid Ireland

Email: mjsmith@christian-aid.org

Additional Notes:
  1. Christian Aid works in some of the world's poorest communities in around 40 countries at any one time. We act where there is great need, regardless of religion, helping people to live a full life, free from poverty. We provide urgent, practical and effective assistance in tackling the root causes of poverty as well as its effects.

  2. Christian Aid’s core belief is that the world can and must be changed so that poverty is ended: this is what we stand for. Everything we do is about ending poverty and injustice: swiftly, effectively, and sustainably. Our strategy document ‘From Inspiration to Impact’ outlines how we set about this task.

  3. Christian Aid is a member of the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of more than 130 churches and church-related organisations that work together in humanitarian assistance, advocacy and development. Further details at http://actalliance.org

  4. Follow Christian Aid Ireland on Twitter: twitter.com/christianaidirl

  5. For more information about the work of Christian Aid, visit www.christianaid.ie

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