Refugee Week (19th to 25th June) this year has the theme of compassion. I think there is so much ignorance surrounding refugees and asylum seekers. Now even a former Conservative Party chair, Lady Warsi, is worried that the Government’s policy towards them is a sign of a slide towards extremism! https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2023/05/03/even-conservatives-are-worried-their-party-is-sliding-into-extremism/
Dear [MP’s name]
I am deeply concerned by the Home Secretary and Prime Minister’s plan to further dismantle the right to asylum in the UK with their ‘Illegal Migration Bill’.
According to the Archbishop of Canterbury, if this bill becomes law, Britain’s proud tradition of welcoming those fleeing persecution will be destroyed. This law will also mean that any refugee who cannot access one of the few safe routes will be denied the chance to reunite with their family and live safely in the UK. Instead, they would be detained by the Home Secretary before being banished forever with no chance to reach their family in the UK or establish a new life here.
Include your full name and address. It’s best if you can adapt the letter slightly, as MPs tend to ignore lots of template letters that are all exactly the same.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has argued that the Illegal Migration Bill risks “great damage” to the UK’s reputation, and that it is “morally indefensible” to leave poorer neighbouring countries to deal with refugees.
He told the House of Lords that existing global agreements on refugees were not “inconvenient obstructions to get round by any legislative means necessary.”
He added that the bill risked “great danger to the UK’s interests and reputation at home and abroad, let alone the interests of those in need of protection…Our interests as a nation are closely linked to our reputation
for justice and the rule of law and to our measured language, calm decision and careful legislation.”
The Bishop of Durham, Paul Butler, attacked the Government’s lack of compassion for refugee women and children:
“The state will view a child or a pregnant woman first and foremost as individuals subject to immigration control, not as an innocent child or a vulnerable mother due to give birth.
We need to ask: what about the government’s duty to protect?
I am reminded of Jesus’s words: it would be better to have a millstone around the neck and be cast into the sea than to cause a little one to stumble. This responsibility needs to bear upon us heavily,” he said.
Lord Dubs, who was brought to the UK as a child refugee on the Kindertransport in 1939, insisted that it was up to the UK to set standards on human rights for other countries to follow:
“[If the UK does not uphold refugee law] notorious abusers of human rights will simply say: ‘Well, if the United Kingdom doesn’t do it, why should we?’”
Meanwhile Lord Dannatt, the former army chief, has also attacked the bill as morally offensive:
“The viciousness, and I use that word quite advisedly, of this bill offends many people’s moral position. It runs the risk of offending Britain’s standing in the world, as a country that upholds international law.”
Responding to Justin Welby’s comments, the immigration minister, Robert Jenrick, denied that the bill was morally indefensible and politically impractical .He said:
“He’s wrong on both counts.
Firstly there’s nothing moral about allowing the pernicious trade of people smugglers to continue … I disagree with him respectfully.
By bringing forward this proposal we make it clear that if you come across illegally on a small boat you will not find a route to life in the UK. That will have a serious deterrent effect.”
Charities are saying that the Government is not doing enough to reunite Sudanese child refugees with family members in the UK.
Asylum seekers granted refuge in the UK are entitled to apply to bring their spouse, children or younger siblings to the UK. But the Home Office is insisting that family members submit biometrics at a visa application centre in a neighbouring country to Sudan, necessitating a potentially hazardous journey to leave the country. Khartoum’s visa application centre has been closed.
The refugee charity Ramfel has described this approach as “disgraceful”, as these children are exposed to the risk of kidnapping, trafficking and exploitation. Many of the refugees stranded in Khartoum have fled from Eritrea and were waiting for visas so that they could join family in the UK.
A 21 year-old Eritrean refugee living in the UK has been trying to bring over his two brothers aged 14 and 17 to the UK.
“They are too young. I’m worried for their live. I’m praying all the time that they will be safe.”
Emily Graham , the head of campaigns at Safe Passage International, said that the Government should be doing everything it could to help young refugees reach safety and family in the UK.