For the first time in almost two decades the Government has not committed to welcoming a single refugee through a resettlement programme – one of the few established routes to safety for people fleeing war, persecution and torture.
What is refugee resettlement?
Refugee resettlement is the relocation of refugees from countries where they originally sought asylum (such as Lebanon) to a third country that has agreed to give them permanent residence. The UN identifies the refugees most in need of protection across the world and puts them on the waiting list. Resettlement is a crucial lifeline for people escaping war and persecution and an important way for the UK to play its part in addressing the global refugee crisis.
The UK used to be a world leader on refugee resettlement, showing its compassion and kindness by welcoming the third largest number of refugees after the US and Canada. Now we are barely in the footnotes.
This Government keeps saying it is proud of resettlement and wants it to continue, but refuses to set a target.
The Government keeps saying that it wants to focus on “safe and legal routes” for refugees. But when they shared the details of it’s anti-refugee bill, we were shocked to find that it contained absolutely zero commitments to resettle any number of refugees here in the UK.
Refugee resettlement is a wonderful, life changing thing
In 2015 the Government announced a ground-breaking commitment to resettle 20,000 Syrian refugees within 5 years.
The people behind these figures are families and individuals who have been given the opportunity to rebuild their lives in safety. They have been welcomed into their new UK homes and become valuable members of their communities .
Refugees are welcome here
These families were resettled in Hereford in 2018, after fleeing conflict in Syria. They told us how they were met in the UK with a warm welcome from their neighbours and their new communities, and supported by Refugee Action to begin to rebuild.
Although they had experienced so much fear and pain in their home countries, they are now able to live safe and happy lives here in the UK.
A commitment to resettlement would mean that we could start planning to welcome refugees into our communities. People like Rob, who first arrived in the UK last year, after fleeing violence and persecution in Democratic Republic of the Congo. Rob and his young family had spent three years living as refugees in Burundi before being resettled in the UK. At just 23, Rob has swiftly become a pillar of his community. During lockdown he started working as a community care worker.
“I started this role because I need to support others. It was and is very scary to do this during lockdown but if I am alive and healthy then I can help others. There are vulnerable people that also deserve to feel safe during the pandemic.”Rob
“Refugees deserve the opportunity to be resettled”
Yaghoub, a father and husband from Sudan, arrived in the UK with his three children and wife in September of 2017 from Egypt through the Gateway Protection Programme. Almost four years on, he tells us how resettlement saved his life.
“I want to help refugees like my mum”
Saharo is a single mum from Somalia. She and her three children, two girls and one boy, arrived in the UK in July 2017 through the Gateway Protection Programme from the Kakuma camp in Kenya and have been thriving together as a family ever since.