UK

Archbishop's new year message focuses on refugees

Justin Welby Image copyright Getty Images

People should use the "hospitality of love" to conquer "hatred and extremism", the Archbishop of Canterbury is to say in a New Year's Day message.

The archbishop will use his televised broadcast to focus on the plight of refugees and urge people to "welcome the alien and stranger".

The Most Reverend Welby will remind people that Jesus too was a refugee.

His message will be broadcast on BBC One on New Year's Day at 12:55 GMT.

In it, the archbishop will also tell of a meeting he had with a boy at Marsh Academy in Kent who at the age of 14 fled his homeland in north Africa over fears for his safety.

'Desperate journeys'

Soldiers stormed the boy's school in Africa and tried to abduct him but he was saved by a "courageous" teacher.

"This is just one example of the many desperate journeys children are making on their own to save their lives," he will say.

He says the Marsh Academy "represents the best of what we can do in this country".

"It welcomes, it loves, it serves, it teaches and equips people and demonstrates our ability to live up to our long-established tradition of warmth and hospitality.

"It's not a rich school; many families in the area are struggling on a day-to-day basis. And yet this school and surrounding community are astonishingly generous. If they can do it, so can we all."

'Formidable weapons'

The government has offered to accept 20,000 refugees from camps bordering Syria by 2020.

The archbishop will say the UK has always welcomed the "poor and weak".

He will say: "In today's world, hospitality and love are our most formidable weapons against hatred and extremism.

"I have met some extraordinary people today, from this area and those who have risked their lives to find safety. The hospitality of people here brings love, hope and joy.

"If we imitate them, society becomes a far better place."

More on this story