Britain must act on refugee crisis or be 'party to failure'

By agency reporter
September 16, 2016

More than 50 charities, NGOs and aid agencies working with refugees across the world have written to Theresa May, urging her to do more to tackle the global refugee crisis.

In an open letter bringing together an unprecedented coalition of organisations large and small, the signatories, including the Refugee Council, criticise the Government’s record of action on the refugee crisis as “not enough – not even close”.

It calls on the Government to commit Britain to take a “leading role in developing a humane, coordinated international response to the millions fleeing crisis”; to offer “safe passage to the UK to more refugees”; and to provide more support to refugees who reach the UK “to rebuild their lives here so they can play a full role in their communities”.

It says that "This [refugee] crisis can be managed humanely. That it continues is a consequence of the inadequacy of the international community's response until now, and its failure to address the root causes. Unless we take the opportunity the summits provide, we too, will be party to that failure.”

The signatories include large international NGOs such as Oxfam and Amnesty, in addition to small grassroots organisations such as Calais Action and City of Sanctuary.

The letter comes days before tens of thousands of people are expected to march through London as part of the Refugees Welcome Here demonstration. The march comes a year after 100,000 took to the streets in London in disgust at the death of Alan Kurdi and the lackluster international response to the unfolding global refugee crisis.

It also follows a letter earlier this week from 200 faith leaders calling on the Government to do more to protect refugees.

The letter will add to the mounting pressure on Theresa May to deliver a meaningful increase in the UK’s commitment to solving the refugee crisis at the upcoming global summits in the US.

The first, the UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants is on 19 September 2016 , while the second, the US Leaders’ Summit on Refugees, is the following day. They are set to be the first such refugee summits attended by Theresa May as Prime Minister.

Commenting, Maurice Wren, Chief Executive of Refugee Council, said: "The time for prevarication and evasion is over; world leaders must make sharing responsibility for protecting refugees their number one priority and agree the concrete actions needed to safeguard more people from persecution and harm.

"The Prime Minister has the chance to lead by example – by offering more refugees safe passage and encouraging other countries to do the same.”

*Read the letter to Theresa May here

* Refugee Council http://www.refugeecouncil.org.uk/

[Ekk/4]

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