Our joint statement: Prime Minister must 'reassert Britain’s tradition of welcoming refugees'

Front of a reception desk with welcome sign c. Jenny Wicks

Prime Minister must 'reassert Britain’s tradition of welcoming refugees' in wake of President Trump refugee ban - charities & INGOs,including Scottish Refugee Council, Oxfam, Amnesty and the IRC, have issued a plea to the UK Government to uphold its commitment to welcoming refugees to Britain in the wake of President Trump's controversial refugee ban.  It comes as thousands demonstrated across the UK against the ban, including in Glasgow, Edinburgh, London, Birmingham, and Leeds.

"It has been heartening to see hundreds of thousands of British people joining the worldwide condemnation of President Trump’s refugee ban through signing petitions and taking part in protests.

"The British government should listen to the British people and use its close relationship with the United States to put more pressure on the Trump administration to change its stance.

 "At the same time, Britain should take urgent and concrete steps to fill the void left by the United States and reassert Britain’s tradition of welcoming refugees through:

 

  • Providing more safe and legal routes for refugees to reach the UK, including enhanced family reunion;
  • Delivering on promises already made to relocate from Europe to Britain vulnerable refugees, including many children, who have family links to this country;
  • Increasing the number of refugees admitted to Britain through our resettlement programme.

"We urge the Prime Minister to meet as soon as possible with a delegation of leaders from the UK’s refugee protection charities to discuss how to deliver these measures. The Trump refugee ban has created an urgent and immediate need: Britain must step up now and show international leadership in providing protection for refugees."

 The statement is signed by:

  • Steve Symonds, Refugee and Migrant Rights Programme Director, Amnesty International
  • Sian Summers Rees, Chief Officer, City of Sanctuary
  • Sabir Zazai, Director, Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre
  • Jerome Phelps, Director, Detention Action
  • Jane Waterman, Executive Director, IRC Europe
  • Phoebe Griffith, Associate Director for Migration, IPPR
  • Edie Friedman, Executive Director, JCORE
  • Saira Grant, Chief Executive, Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI)
  • Nazek Ramadan, Director, Migrant Voice
  • Zrinka Bralo, Chief Executive, Migrants Organise
  • Wayne Myslik, Chief Executive, Migrants Resource Centre
  • Fizza Qureshi, Director, Migrants' Rights Network
  • Marc Stears, Chief Executive, New Economics Foundation (NEF)
  • Matthew Spencer, Director of Campaigns, Oxfam GB
  • Sally Daghlian OBE, Chief Executive, Praxis Community Projects
  • Rita Chadha, Chief Executive, RAMFEL (Refugee and Migrant Forum of Essex and London)
  • Stephen Hale, Chief Executive, Refugee Action
  • Maurice Wren, Chief Executive, Refugee Council
  • Mia Hasenson-Gross, Director, Rene Cassin
  • Yasmine Nahlawi, Advocacy & Policy Coordinator, Rethink Rebuild Society
  • Michael Collins, Co-ordinator, Right to Remain
  • Ros Ereira, Director, Solidarity with Refugees
  • John Wilkes, Chief Executive, Scottish Refugee Council
  • Emma Williams, Chief Executive, STAR (Student Action for Refugees)
  • Natasha Walter, Director, Women for Refugee Women

Speaking on Good Morning Scotland, Gary Christie, Head of Communications at Scottish Refugee Council, said: 

"One of the biggest impacts of Trump's anti-refugee policy will be to the number of resettled refugees in the US. The US is one of the largest countries, in terms of numbers, that resettles refugees and that has stopped overnight. This leaves a huge void. Only 1% of the world's refugees are resettled and half of those go to the US. Theresa May should stand up and reassert the UK Government's commitment to welcoming refugees to fill that void. We've seen Angela Merkel set out the values of Europe and Germany and those are about safeguarding international protection. 

 "We shouldn't be rolling out the red carpet for President Donald Trump while he is slamming the door shut on refugees. We shouldn't be welcoming him here while he's not welcoming refugees. It is a tradition of the UK to welcome refugees and the US is flying in the complete opposite direction to that. We need to set out our values and who we are as a country. I think the thousands of people who demonstrated across the UK showed the UK's solidarity with refugees. We need to remember that refugees are usually the first to be targetted when xenophobia grips a nation and it's not enough for us just to sit back."