We are sure you are aware of the recent tragic loss of life of at least four people, including young children, attempting to cross the channel. We’d like to draw your attention to the following response from Refugee Action and to their video you can access via the given link:
“At least four people lost their lives attempting to cross the Channel yesterday. This included children aged five and eight. They lost their lives because they were desperate to reach safety. Because entering a dinghy in freezing and dangerous waters was the best option they had left. Because our Government has chosen hostile rhetoric over action to protect the most vulnerable. Since March 2020, the number of people who arrived safely to the UK through the refugee resettlement scheme is zero. The number of people who have died in the Channel is at least five.
When challenged on the circumstances that led those desperate people to attempt to cross the Channel, The Home Office said this morning that “there are a range of legal pathways to seeking protection in the UK, including resettlement schemes where they take refugees directly from regions of conflict.” This is not true. The programme does not exist because it has been paused for the past eight months.
Safe routes to safety, like refugee resettlement, have been closed since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis. With flights for holidays back up and running this summer, and other countries welcoming refugees again as early as July, working out why the UK hasn’t is a puzzle.
It’s a puzzle with a missing piece: political will. Only political will from the Government to reopen safe routes to safety can put us back on the right path to welcoming and protecting people fleeing war and persecution.
In March, 600 refugee families had their suitcases packed, ready to start their lives again in the UK. Those bags have not been unpacked since – but those families have been left with no support and no answers on when their fear and uncertainty might end.
The funding is there. Local authorities have confirmed that they have the capacity to restart resettlement safely. Charities and local groups have made it very clear to the Government that they are ready to resettle families arriving to the UK as refugees.
Only the political will to restart resettlement is missing. We are asking the Government to find it, complete the picture, and reopen safe routes to safety.
This has never been more urgent. Yesterday’s tragic news shows us that abandoning people in desperate situations leaves them with no hope, and the thought that their only route to a new life is on a dangerous boat. We can give people that hope. We can offer them a future. But only if we open safe routes to safety now.”