Refugees trapped in ‘shadowy worlds’

Europe and Britain must do more to prevent refugees from being trapped in ‘shadowy worlds’

UNHCR representative speaks out at Scottish Refugee Council AGM

UNHCR Representative to the UK Roland Schilling has called on the UK Government to do more to enhance its global responsibility to help refugees.

On his first visit to Scotland, Schilling will present the keynote speech during Scottish Refugee Council’s AGM today (Friday 15 January) at 2.45pm at Glasgow’s City Chambers.

Speaking ahead of the AGM Mr Schilling said the opportunities for people to seek safety have decreased due to the tightening of border controls.

Mr Schilling said: “People fleeing persecution and therefore unable to return to their communities in safety are in an increasingly dire situation as many countries refuse entry.

 “Of the more than 10.5 million refugees under UNHCR’s care in the world, and 26 million persons forced to flee within their own countries, only a fraction are able to find adequate protection,” he said.

 “Governments in Europe have focused very strongly on how to make access more difficult, as a consequence, the doors to reach protection for many refugees are shut,” Schilling said. “This doesn’t solve the problem of individuals stuck in a shadowy world, destitute in many transit countries, often without any legal status.

“The lapse in international protection for the world’s most vulnerable people requires more responsible action by industrialized countries, including the UK.”

Scottish Refugee Council Chief Executive John Wilkes backed the call: “The ability to seek asylum is a human right. When people are fleeing war or persecution they need a place where they can be safe from danger.

“We support the UNHCR’s calls for countries like the UK to make more efforts to protect some of the world’s most vulnerable people.”

Also speaking is Scottish Human Rights Commission head Professor Alan Miller, who will demand more recognition of the human rights of refugees who seek safety in Scotland.

Interviews will be available prior to the AGM. For more information contact Scottish Refugee Council media officers Karin Goodwin or Clare Harris on 0141 223 7927/ 07734 030 763

Notes to Editors

Scottish Refugee Council’s Annual General Meeting takes place on Friday 15 February 2010 at Glasgow’s City Chambers, George Square, Glasgow from 2pm – 4pm. Media are welcome.

The theme of this year’s AGM is ‘Asylum is a Human Right’.

Scottish Refugee Council is an independent charity dedicated to providing advice, information and assistance to asylum seekers and refugees living in Scotland. We also provide specialist services in areas such as housing and welfare, women's issues, community development, the media and the arts.

We play a leading role in policy development and campaign on refugee issues to ensure that Scotland plays a full role in meeting the UK's legal and humanitarian obligations under the 1951 United Nations Convention on Refugees.