Here is our letter to our MP. It is worth continuing to correspond with him about issues affecting people seeking asylum/refuge as he will then know how strongly his constituents feel about this. Please do so regularly! I will post his reply when we receive it.
From: Hay, Brecon & Talgarth Sanctuary for Refugees
Date: Mon, 26 Jun 2017 at 08:14
Subject: Information, please.
To: DAVIES, Chris
At our recent meeting, I was asked to write to say that, as you start your new term of office, we look forward to continued constructive dialogue with you.
We know that the media can portray people seeking asylum/refuge in a negative light and we are obviously living through very troubled times with the recent attacks upon civilians in London and Manchester. Despite this background ,we have always been very warmly received when we have been fundraising and information giving even in the last few months. We raised over £5000 again at the Hay Festival in May and in Brecon and Llangorse recently at Great Get together parties over £400 was raised for refugee charities- including for survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire. The event in Brecon was in St Johns ward and again we faced no hostility only people being concerned for their fellow human beings.
Our group continues to grow with nearly 400 supporters on our mailing list and similar numbers on Facebook and Twitter. We continue with a full programme of days out for people seeking asylum or refuge and we know these are much appreciated and enjoyed by all attendees- with many local people joining in and enjoying spending time with such a diverse group. Thus we hope that you will represent our views in Parliament and keep us informed about progress.
In particular we would like to know about the future of the Syrian Resettlement programme- Will this continue to 2020 as promised and take 20,000 people from the refugee camps?
Also will the unaccompanied children in Europe who have family here be enabled to join them safely?
We are pleased that the Syrian parents of the unfortunate young man killed in the Grenfell tower disaster were granted leave to attend his funeral and visit their other sons who were also caught up in the fire. We are also pleased that the Prime Minister has suggested that a firmer line on hate crimes will be taken and that far right extremist groups will also be treated as terrorist organisations. These are encouraging steps that may help to heal increasingly fractured society.
We still look forward to welcoming you to one of our away days when your schedule permits.
All good wishes,
On 18th July after reminder:
Thank you for your e-mail regarding Syrian refugees. It is good to hear from you once again.
As you will no doubt be aware, the Government is doing everything it can to help those caught up in the conflict in Syria. Its main focus has been, and will continue to be around ending the conflict, which I believe is the best way to help those who have become refugees. Many just want to go back to their homes and live their lives in peace and I am glad to see the Government’s focus on this.
Regarding your specific concerns, I am informed that the Government will keep its proposals under review in light of the constantly changing situation in Syria. Because the picture is changing, even as we speak, I think it may not be wise to make any firm commitments on the questions you have asked. After all, if we commit to taking a certain number until a certain time and the conflict ends, we could end up with a commitment to take people who do not need refuge any more as they are able to return home. Further, we want to ensure that those who do seek refuge and wish to return can do so following the end of the fighting and we would not want any of our commitments to prevent this from taking place. So while I would like to give you firm answers, I do hope you understand why I am reluctant to do so.
Instead, I can assure you that the Government will continue to do all it can to help those who need it, particularly those displaced by the conflict, and will continue to work to end the fighting and begin a political solution as soon as possible.
So while I appreciate this may not be the response you were hoping for, I do at least hope it sets out my position clearly.
Chris Davies MP
Member of Parliament for Brecon and Radnorshire
on 9th August drafted by Executive group
Thanks for your response and i enclose our further queries. We all agree that cessation of fighting in and around Syria would be the solution everyone affected wants and no one wants to leave their home but how to achieve peace is awaited.
However, I wonder if your response is superseded by the document we saw this week?
I note that you feel that “it may not be wise to make any firm commitments” on these questions, but I find it hard to understand the reasons you give: “if we commit to taking a certain number until a certain time and the conflict ends, we could end up with a commitment to take people who do not need refuge any more as they are able to return home.”
However, until the conflict ends or diminishes radically, it is exceedingly unlikely that anyone will be able to return home. On the contrary, the flow of refugees is likely to continue and even possibly increase. In any case, were the conflict to end, return to become possible, or other circumstances change, the government would be perfectly at liberty to announce a review of the commitment or to cancel it as no longer necessary. After all, you would not say to a drowning man “I won’t throw you this life-buoy to save you, because you might find shallow water and not need it”.
We entirely agree that those who do seek refuge and wish to return should be able to do so following the end of fighting. But we are at a loss to understand how any commitment to offer sanctuary for refugees now could prevent them from returning later. Again, you would not say to someone seeking to flee a burning home, “We will not help you to leave, in case it should prevent you from returning when the fire is put out”.
We do believe strongly that firm commitments are required. Of course, proposals need to be kept under review in the light of the constantly changing situation in Syria (and elsewhere). But, unless you have proposals and commitments, there is nothing to review.
In the meantime, we share the view of some prominent church leaders that Britain’s international reputation may have been damaged by the very modest scale of the commitments we, one of the world’s richer nations, have so far offered.
So our questions remain, and we do strongly believe that firm commitments are required:
Will the government continue the Syrian Resettlement programme until 2020 as promised, unless the conflict ends and there is no longer a need?
Will 20,000 of the most vulnerable people from refugee camps in the region be offered sanctuary, as promised? And will that quota be increased if the number of such people and the severity of their predicament, as measured by UNHCR, the International Red Cross and similar agencies, continues or increases?
Will unaccompanied asylum-seeking children in Europe who have family members already in the UK be enabled to join them?
Will you seek a commitment from the Home Office to eliminate the delays (documented recently by Refugee Action https://www.refugee-action.org.uk/government-failures-force-people-seeking-protection-unbearable-poverty-new-research-reveals/) in allocating aid to those seeking refuge who are entitled to receive it?