We’ve been advocating for refugees since our founding.
Sadly, the rights of refugees remain under attack right across Europe and the UK, and things are getting worse.
In the Mediterranean area, where we’ve supported people on the move, since 2016, the first three months of this year have been the deadliest first quarter on record since 2017. Both Libya and Tunisia are persecuting Black refugees and pulling people back to horrific conditions. Malta has a policy of non-response. Greece is pushing people back to Turkey. Italy is very hostile towards rescue NGOs.
Fortunately, the UK, where we are based, is doing a good job of rescuing people in boats in the Channel—largely thanks to the wonderful RNLI. But people face a harsh struggle to survive when they arrive. They will wait years for a decision on their asylum and, during that time, are forced to live in poor-quality housing and not allowed to work – a senseless, cruel and self-defeating policy.
On top of that, the UK government is continuing with its failed plan to deport all new arrivals to Rwanda. The latest scheme is to put people on barges or derelict military bases until they can be deported without their asylum applications being considered. It seems the only way the UK government can make this work is to ignore rulings from the European Court of Human Rights and the International Refugee Convention.
These are terrible precedents. We’ve just read On Tyranny by Timothy Snyder, who warns about Trump’s US—and we are witnessing a similar slide in the UK. We are hearing dehumanising language, treacherous calls to patriotism and our institutions being undermined.
Refugee rights need to be defended because it is the morally right thing to do—and also because they are canaries in the political coal mine. As this quote, often attributed to Tony Benn, points out:
“The way a government treats refugees is very instructive because it shows you how they would treat the rest of us if they thought they could get away with it.”
There are so many ways you can show solidarity and say, “not in my name”. Join our community and stand up for the rights of refugees across the world.