Europe’s growing refugee crisis and what you can do

Colleagues, please read on for a message from Robina Qureshi, Director of Positive Action in Housing.

Europe’s growing refugee crisis and what you can do

We have today written to the First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, to request that the Scottish Government adds to her earlier statement today in supporting a UK wide relocation plan. We have asked the First Minister to publicly state that that Scotland would be prepared to take in refugees to Scotland equating to 1% of its population under a UK wide relocation plan.

Our charity and its supporters are deeply concerned about the growing refugee crisis. We are being inundated with offers from people wanting to give accommodation and donations to destitute refugees and assist those trying to enter the UK. People are desperate to assist in any way possible: to open the doors of their homes for shelter and to donate money and essential items in response to the images and stories coming from Calais, from Austria and other places across Europe. This goes against the “received wisdom” of the Daily Mail and similar media with their daily diatribes against refugees, migrants and minority ethnic communities creating prejudice and divisions in our communities.

There is an expressed desire for civic society and individuals to contribute in some way. In response, we are putting in place a range of actions to engage our members, supporters and wider society. We have just set up an emergency appeal. This appeal will distribute direct, targeted humanitarian crisis support for refugees in Calais and elsewhere, to aid the provision of food, shelter, clothing, medical supplies with an emphasis on the needs of children and similar humanitarian purposes.

The position of the UK government in trying to barricade out refugees is shameful, short-sighted and untenable. For decades developing countries have taken in the bulk of the world’s refugees while Europe erects borders to keep out the refugees it helped to create. 350,000 refugees have travelled to Europe in 2015, mainly fleeing war and economic crisis. Around 2,500 are believed to have drowned in the Mediterranean this year. Last week, the decomposing bodies of 71 Syrian refugees including four children were discovered in an abandoned truck near Vienna. It is impossible not to be moved by the images in this morning’s papers of the lifeless body of a Syrian toddler on a Turkish beach.

Germany is showing strong leadership by accepting 800,000 refugees into its borders. In contrast, Prime Minister David Cameron has now stated that the government could not accept “more and more” refugees. He would be referring to the UK taking in a pitiful 216 Syrian refugees from camps in Jordan and other neighbouring countries under the “vulnerable persons” relocation initiative since June 2014. The number of asylum applications to the UK has flat lined in recent years – there were 24,914 in 2014, a small figure given the world is in the grip of its worst refugee crisis since the Second World War.

We are now calling on our supporters to press for change and demand that the UK takes its fair share of refugees and implements a UK wide emergency relocation plan. We also believe that the Scottish government should expand upon its initial offer to participate in a hypothetical relocation plan by making a concrete and explicit commitment to accept 50,000 refugees into Scotland, 1% of Scotland’s population.

What you can do

Write to the Home Secretary and demand that Britain steps up to its obligations and implements a UK wide relocation plan to tackle the growing refugee crisis. Email Theresa May at privateoffice.external@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk.  Please copy your emails to home@paih.org.

Write to the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon MSP and request that she continue to put pressure on the UK government by signalling the Scottish Government’s willingness to take in 50,000 refugees to Scotland as part of a UK wide relocation plan. Please copy your emails to home@paih.org.

Write to your local MSP/MP/MEP (see https://www.writetothem.com/ for their contact details) and ask them to speak out. Please copy your emails to home@paih.org.

Give a donation now to our Refugee Crisis Appeal Europe: This appeal is set up in response to Europe’s growing refugee crisis whereby the UK government is blocking entry to refugees trying to enter the UK. Direct, targeted humanitarian emergency crisis grants for refugees in Calais and other European ports trying to reach Europe, to aid in the provision of food, shelter, clothing, medical supplies with an emphasis on the needs of children and similar humanitarian purposes. Every penny goes directly to refugees in Calais and elsewhere.

To donate regularly to our general work, email home@paih.org

Offer accommodation to someone through our Lifeline Refugee Aid Service

Social media campaign: Tweet a picture of yourself/your family/colleague/friends with a sign saying #refugeeswelcome. Add it to your Facebook profile too.

For updates on this campaign, please follow @positiveactionh, like our page on www.facebook.com/paihltd or see out website www.paih.org

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