*Please note the crucial difference between a refugee and migrant. Read more here.
Could the leader of the Council set out what steps he is taking to welcome refugees from the current Syria crisis to the RBWM as part of the government’s effort to accept more refugees.
i. supports the Prime Minister’s announcement on 7 September that the UK will accept up to 20,000 Syrian refugees over the next 5 years.
ii. calls upon the Government to keep the situation under active review and increase the number of refugees the UK will accept if required by this humanitarian crisis.
22 September 2015
I am bringing this motion due to the historic nature of events occurring right now in Europe, largely as a result of the conflict in Syria.
The crisis has been building for many years and has gathered steam since the summer of last year when we witnessed the expulsion of both the Christian and Yazidis communities from their homes.
For much of the public, the humanitarian catastrophe was brought home in a brutal way when a harrowing picture was broadcast around the world, that of the body of three year old Aylan Kurdi washed up on the shores of Turkey.
Europe is facing the greatest number of refugees since World War II.
For over 3 years Syria has experienced a vicious civil war – resulting in 4m refugees. Of Syria’s 1.1m Christian population, an estimated 700,000 have already been forced to leave ancient towns and villages as Islamic State militants expanded into the north west of the country.
The crisis compares to 1.2m refuges from the Balkan wars in the 1990s, 15m after WW II. UNHCR considers there are almost 60m refugees and forcibly displaced people around the world.
Facing Barrel bombs and even gassing many Syrians have a ‘well-founded fear of persecution.’
There is therefore both a moral and legal duty to act.
Our International Development Secretary Justine Greening has noted that the UK has given more than £1 billion in aid – second only to the United States – for food, shelter, education and health services, helping the victims of this terrible tragedy rebuild their lives in host countries.
At a time of great and legitimate public concern about migration and our relationship with the rest of Europe concerning the movement of people, the Prime Minister was right to draw a distinction regarding refugees.
Of the resettlement of 20,000 of the most vulnerable Syrian refugees from the region, the Development Secretary said ‘this is not just morally the right thing to do, but it’s also the smart thing to do.’
We should be proud of what our nation is doing under very difficult circumstances.
As such, I propose this council…
i) Supports the Prime Minister’s announcement on 7 September that the UK will accept up to 20,000 Syrian refugees from camps over the next 5 years.
Regarding Part 2 – I propose withdrawing this element as it is clear that the Government is keeping the situation under review – our Home Secretary and local MP Theresa May met today with European Interior leaders. Furthermore, given the rapid rise in people traffickers, I would not wish any motion to send the wrong message to such individuals. Thank you.