Solidarity with Refugees


Open letter to the Prime Minister, the Home Secretary and the Minister for Immigration


We are the organisers of the ‘Solidarity with Refugees’ demonstration that drew 90,000 people to march through central London this Saturday 12th September. Thousands more were involved in simultaneous demonstrations in support of refugees in Belfast, Manchester, Bristol, Leeds, Birmingham, Brighton, York, Falmouth, Newcastle, Liverpool, Cardiff, Glasgow, Swansea, Barnsley, Bradford, Huddersfield, Sheffield, Wakefield, Aberystwyth, Coventry, Exeter, Chester, Newcastle, and Stirling.

The clear message of these demonstrations – and the myriad petitions calling on the Government to accept its moral and legal obligations towards refugees – is that:

  • The 20,000 resettlement places so far offered (over a five year period and not for those already seeking refuge in Europe)- some 12 places per day- is far too little, and far too slow, for the magnitude and urgency of the unprecedented global refugee crisis.
  • The Government’s message to date that offering more resettlement or relocation places will ‘pull’ people to risk their lives on the Mediterranean convinces no-one. The evidence is overwhelming that the situation in the main countries of origin – Syria, Eritrea – and in refugee camps in surrounding countries- is so horrifying, and constitutes so compelling a ‘push’ factor that no ‘pull’ is needed.
  • Families with war or totalitarian repression at their backs will continue to risk their lives- and many more will die- until the EU, including Britain, offers safe and legal routes to reach the EU.
    Reception conditions at Europe’s peripheries- in particular Hungary and Greece, are so poor or have deteriorated to such an extent that it is indefensible to seek to enforce (save for the purposes of family reunification) the ‘Dublin’ system of forcing asylum seekers back to the country through which they first entered the EU.
  • A significant portion of the public, far from being attracted by the dog-whistle, toxic language used by some members of the Government to describe refugees (‘a swarm’) are ashamed of it.

We expect more from Britain and better from our Government.

This is why we call on the British Government to take responsibility at the EU Emergency Talks on 14 September. A viable and humane solution must meet the following four criteria:

  1. Britain must take a fair and proportionate share of refugees.
  2. Safe and legal routes into the EU. For example, humanitarian visas (visas to travel to claim asylum) and humane family reunion policies.
  3. Safe and legal routes inside the EU for asylum seekers. For example, an end to the dysfunctional ‘Dublin’ system of pushing asylum seekers back to the poorer countries on Europe’s peripheries.
  4. Free movement of recognised refugees within the EU. This would help reunite families and prevent asylum seekers and refugees from risking their lives crossing Europe clandestinely.
    Signed by Ros Ereira, principal organiser of the demonstration