The murder of George Floyd in the United States and the recent report from Public Health England on the impact of Covid-19 on black, asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities has prompted Refugee Action to reflect on our role in tackling racism of all kinds. The statement below summarises our understanding and responsibilities as we currently see them.
The murder of George Floyd was caused by racism and white supremacy. Racism is not just a problem in the US. Institutional racism and colonial thinking persists in the UK: in our politics, our agencies, our asylum system – and our charities.
BAME groups in the UK have poorer health outcomes, lower employment levels, less representation in politics – and in charity leadership. We all have a responsibility to tackle these and many other injustices.
Refugee Action exists to help refugees and people seeking asylum access justice and rebuild their lives. We aim to shift power and give people seeking safety the space to stand up for their rights. Racism and hate crime are two of the challenges they face. There are many others. We see this structurally.
We’re deeply concerned by the unequal impact of the coronavirus pandemic on BAME people, including the people we help. We note the new report on this. We already knew that BAME communities were at greater risk of catching this virus and of dying from it. We need more action to reduce these risks.
Despite compelling evidence of suffering, our Government has so far chosen to do nothing to increase Asylum Support payments, leaving people to survive on £5.39 a day in a pandemic. If they were predominantly white, would our Government have responded by now?
As well as speaking out we also understand that we must continue to listen and learn, to look at ourselves and the wider charity sector and counter privilege and structural racism in our own work and practices.