UK refugee charities have called on the Government to be ready to put in place emergency pathways for those seeking refuge from the conflict in the Middle East. The deepening crisis in Israel and Palestine has already cost thousands of lives and is exacerbating an already desperate Palestinian refugee crisis in the region.
Organisations including the Refugee Council, Safe Passage International, Doctors of the World, Helen Bamber Foundation and City of Sanctuary are supporting the call for a co-ordinated and emergency response to the plight of those having to flee their homes. They urge the UK Government to lead the way by putting in place:
- Medical evacuation for people in need of specialist care.
- An emergency family reunion scheme modelled on the approach introduced in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
- An emergency refugee protection visa.
- Facilitated travel for UK nationals and those with the right to enter the UK.
- Prioritising cases of Israelis and Palestinians already in the UK asylum system.
The proposals, set out in a briefing paper by the Refugee Council, build on approaches taken by the Government to other conflicts of significant scale, such as those in Afghanistan and Ukraine. The government is also being urged to use its diplomatic discussions to press for borders to be open to allow a route to safety for those wanting to leave the region.
The charities are also emphasising the importance of the right to asylum in the UK being in place for those who through no fault of their own have to take dangerous journeys to reach the country.
Enver Solomon, CEO of the Refugee Council, said: “As the conflict worsens the number of Palestinian men, women and children displaced and those facing grave danger will only increase. People who aren’t secure and safe in their homes need access to safety and the UK must be ready to play a role by implementing a package of emergency measures at short notice.
“Responses to recent major conflicts have resulted in different schemes for different nationalities, all with separate and often complex eligibility criteria and unclear funding regimes. Instead of this ad hoc and inconsistent approach, a standard set of measures to provide safe passage to those who need it should be operationalised as and when a crisis warrants such a response.
“At the same time it is vital that the right to asylum is up held for those who, through no fault of their own, have to take dangerous journeys to the UK as well as expanding safe routes including an ambitious multi-year resettlement commitment, wider family reunion pathways, and the piloting of a refugee visa.”
* Read the Refugee Council’s full briefing paper here.
* Source: The Refugee Council