The human rights campaigner Jemima Khan today (21 July 2011) spoke out in support of refugees in the UK at a Refugee Council event to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the charity. At the event, which also marked the 60th anniversary of UN Convention for Refugees, Khan called on the UK government to continue protecting people fleeing modern day conflict like those currently escaping North Africa and the Middle East.
Ms Khan also commended the Refugee Council for its dedicated years of work offering advice and support to refugees and asylum seekers in the UK since 1951 at the event, which aimed to raise vital funds for the charity.
Tonight, Jemima Khan said: “I am proud to be here to wish the Refugee Council a happy 60th birthday. Together with the Refugee Council, I would like to urge the UK government this year to strengthen and reaffirm its commitment to the UN Convention for Refugees, which has saved so many lives since 1951.
“The Refugee Council does invaluable work to offer vital support to those seeking safety in the UK, and I sincerely hope they can continue to carry out this incredible work for the next 60 years and beyond.”
In response, Donna Covey, Chief Executive of the Refugee Council said: “Sixty years on from the UN Convention for Refugees, we are delighted that Jemima Khan has today spoken out in support of refugees. In doing so, she brings attention to the fact that people coming to the UK fleeing conflicts today are as much in need of protection as those fleeing Nazi Germany 60 years ago. As long as there is war and persecution in the world, we will need the Convention, and we will need the Refugee Council, so we welcome the generous support of Jemima Khan and guests here today.”
The fundraising event at the Lincoln Centre in London comes in a year when the Refugee Council has faced 62 per cent cuts to its government funding for essential advice services for refugees and asylum seekers. Any funds raised at the event will be matched by the GLC Charitable Trust, which has pledged to double any donations made to the charity by 28 July 2011, the day of the 60th anniversary of the UN Convention for Refugees.
The UN Convention was created in response to the atrocities of World War II to protect people at risk in their own countries, and has saved millions of lives since. The findings of a recent survey for the Refugee Council carried out by Opinium Research, show that six out of ten (59 per cent) Britons believe that the UN Convention for Refugees is just as relevant or more relevant for protecting people fleeing conflict today as it was in 1951. The survey also found that two out of three (67 per cent) British people are sympathetic to refugees coming to the UK today.