Haringey Community Press

Haringey Community Press

Why we must offer sanctuary for refugees

In our latest local MP's column, Catherine West argues that the UK government needs to take a non-hostile approach to support people fleeing conflict

Hero for Why we must offer sanctuary for refugees
Hornsey and Wood Green MP Catherine West (credit parliament.uk)
By Catherine West 11 April 2022

I recently had the privilege of meeting Marta, the mum of my constituent, who has finally arrived from Ukraine after being stuck for days in a Home Office bureaucratic nightmare.I recently had the privilege of meeting Marta, the mum of my constituent, who has finally arrived from Ukraine after being stuck for days in a Home Office bureaucratic nightmare.

She considers herself one of the lucky ones; at one point she was told it could be May before her visa was processed. With my office’s help things moved a bit quicker but her story isn’t unique, and the UK government’s response to Europe’s greatest humanitarian crisis since the Second World War has been shamefully slow.She considers herself one of the lucky ones; at one point she was told it could be May before her visa was processed. With my office’s help things moved a bit quicker but her story isn’t unique, and the UK government’s response to Europe’s greatest humanitarian crisis since the Second World War has been shamefully slow.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine, almost three million refugees have fled, overwhelmingly women and children, often carrying little more than a change of clothes. Some 1.5 million people have sought refuge in Poland, 200,000 in Hungary and almost 80,000 in Moldova, one of Europe’s poorest states.Since Russia invaded Ukraine, almost three million refugees have fled, overwhelmingly women and children, often carrying little more than a change of clothes. Some 1.5 million people have sought refuge in Poland, 200,000 in Hungary and almost 80,000 in Moldova, one of Europe’s poorest states.

Yet here in the UK, one of the richest countries in the world, we have issued 25,500 refugee visas from the 59,500 applications as of 29th March. The only country in Europe not to immediately offer a simple, sanctuary route, Johnson’s government is “world leading” in paperwork not compassion.Yet here in the UK, one of the richest countries in the world, we have issued 25,500 refugee visas from the 59,500 applications as of 29th March. The only country in Europe not to immediately offer a simple, sanctuary route, Johnson’s government is “world leading” in paperwork not compassion.

It’s long been a source of national shame that instead of seeking to help some of the most vulnerable people fleeing unimaginable horror, the UK under the Tories has sought to send back boats, stop unaccompanied kids from joining their families, push the cruel Nationality and Borders Bill through parliament and drive “go home” vans round London’s streets.It’s long been a source of national shame that instead of seeking to help some of the most vulnerable people fleeing unimaginable horror, the UK under the Tories has sought to send back boats, stop unaccompanied kids from joining their families, push the cruel Nationality and Borders Bill through parliament and drive “go home” vans round London’s streets.

While the British people have shown spirit and generosity, donating millions to the Disasters Emergency Committee, and crashing the finally launched ‘Homes for Ukraine’, website as over 100,000 people signed up in a matter of hours − Boris Johnson and Priti Patel have dragged their feet. It’s a repeat of last summer when I raised serious concerns about the government’s handling of the Afghanistan evacuation, following the Taliban takeover.While the British people have shown spirit and generosity, donating millions to the Disasters Emergency Committee, and crashing the finally launched ‘Homes for Ukraine’, website as over 100,000 people signed up in a matter of hours − Boris Johnson and Priti Patel have dragged their feet. It’s a repeat of last summer when I raised serious concerns about the government’s handling of the Afghanistan evacuation, following the Taliban takeover.

I recently met with brave Afghan women, still living in hotels since they arrived here last August. They told me the struggles they were having even registering with a GP. The Tory “hostile environment” now embedded in access to public services.I recently met with brave Afghan women, still living in hotels since they arrived here last August. They told me the struggles they were having even registering with a GP. The Tory “hostile environment” now embedded in access to public services.

Refugees fleeing unimaginable horrors deserve so much better, and I hope this public outcry becomes a turning point, shining a light on the situation facing refugees, not just from Ukraine but from around the world. We need an end to the hostile environment and far more urgency and political will to support those fleeing conflict who want to come to the UK.Refugees fleeing unimaginable horrors deserve so much better, and I hope this public outcry becomes a turning point, shining a light on the situation facing refugees, not just from Ukraine but from around the world. We need an end to the hostile environment and far more urgency and political will to support those fleeing conflict who want to come to the UK.

Catherine West Labour MP for Hornsey and Wood Green. To contact her, if you are a constituent:Catherine West Labour MP for Hornsey and Wood Green. To contact her, if you are a constituent:

Call 020 7219 6141Call 020 7219 6141

Email [email protected]Email [email protected]

Visit catherine west.org.ukVisit catherine west.org.uk