We are also concerned about the language and treatment of these poor people.
“No-one puts their child in a boat unless the water is safer than the land.”
I am writing to you on behalf of our group about the ongoing Channel crossings and the UK
Government’s response. Our concerns are threefold
1 Over recent weeks, we have become increasingly concerned about the dehumanising and
worrying portrayal in the national media of people seeking sanctuary on UK shores. We fear
that this has been fuelled by statements made by the UK government.
We urge you and all your colleagues to make it clear that it is entirely legal for a person
seeking sanctuary to enter the UK without documents in order to seek asylum. We are
very concerned about the language being used and ask you to urge your colleagues to
remember that these are people in distress who deserve our pity not our venom.
2 We are also asking you to write to the Home Secretary urging her to introduce safe and
legal routes to the UK to prevent risk and exploitation.
In the past, the UK has stood up for sanctuary and welcomed people seeking safety from
countries and situations as diverse as Nazi Germany, Hungary during the cold war, Vietnam,
Uganda under Idi Amin, apartheid South Africa, Chile, Syria under Assad and recently Hong
Kong. That tradition, in which we can take some pride, is now at risk.
In 2015, in response to the heart-breaking image of Alan Kurdi, a three year old Syrian boy
who drowned in the Mediterranean, many people in all parts of the UK joined the Sanctuary
Movement to make the UK a welcoming place of safety. HBTSR was founded at that time.
Now, in 2020, must we wait for the body of a little child to be washed up on a Kent beach
before we rediscover our empathy and solidarity with children and families forced to risk their
lives because they have run out of options?
Most of those people seeking sanctuary have family or loved ones in the UK, are at risk of
exploitation by people traffickers and smugglers and are fleeing war or persecution. No one
would risk their lives on a boat unless it was the only way forward towards safety, and there
was no going back.
At present, the UK does not provide a legal route, by applying for a visa, to make a claim for
protection, nor does it provide adequate resettlement for refugee family reunion. The only
way to make a claim is to do so after arrival on British soil. It is therefore completely
unsurprising that asylum seekers will take these terrible risks to reach the UK in order to
lodge their claim.
The Government should listen to the evidence and recommendations from people who have
experienced these terrible journeys and experts on humane and effective solutions to make
refugee journeys safer.
Introducing a safe and legal route and assisting refugees to access it, is the only way to
bring to an end the dangerous and inhumane traffic in small boats across the Channel.
Empowering consular officials, rather than deploying the Royal Navy, is the better, cheaper
and infinitely more humane solution.
3 Finally we would like to remind people of the immense positive contribution that past
asylum seekers/ refugees have made to the British culture.[eg Lord Maurice Saatchi and
Charles Saatchi , Richard Rogers,Marc Chagall, Lucien Freud,,Sir Alec Issigonis] A common
sentiment that a lot of refugee’s express is that they chose to come to the United Kingdom
because of its warmth, just, equal and fair treatment, and freedom of expression. These values are what the UK is known for throughout the world, and we must do our utmost to defend and maintain these moral standards for the future generations of our diverse, multi-
cultural population by ensuring that we do not stigmatise these people who can make a big contribution to our country if given a chance.
Ailsa Dunn secretary for Hay, Brecon & Talgarth Sanctuary for Refugees [ 1173570]