The City of Sanctuary UK staff team joined the climate strike today in solidarity with young people around the world who called for this strike action. The strike is part of ongoing protests to call for urgent national and international action to address the issue of climate change and is in part inspired by the 16-year-old Swedish schoolgirl, Greta Thunberg, who held a solo protest outside Sweden’s parliament ahead of their elections last year.
City of Sanctuary’s vision is that ‘the UK will be a welcoming place of safety for all and proud to offer sanctuary to people fleeing violence and persecution.’ Besides in Leeds and Norwich some of the staff members joined gatherings in different cities and towns across the UK.
Today, it is becoming increasingly clear that one of the most significant drivers of forced migration in this century will be climate change. Although not an exact science, many researchers predict there will be around 200 million ‘climate refugees’ by 2050. City of Sanctuary and many others will continue to work together to ensure people seeking sanctuary are welcome in the UK. It is also incumbent on us to act in solidarity with those working to prevent the causes of forced migration.
As the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants powerfully states, ‘The climate crisis has no borders, yet the UK closes the doors to those who move across them.’
Climate justice and social justice in all its forms are increasingly closely intertwined. This is part of a process of understanding the social and political links between climate change and the hostile environment and we look forward to working closely with climate justice groups and others to understand these better and to find ways to collectively strengthen our networks and
movement. Reflecting on his recent experience of Cyclone Idai, one of the worst tropical cyclones on record to affect African and the Southern Hemisphere, an exiled Zimbabwean who is deeply involved with City of Sanctuary said, “I am always asked to talk about my experience as an asylum seeker… But I also want to talk about climate change and migration, how it is affecting many people, how it is forcing people to leave their homes and to call on people and governments to do more to prevent the worst effects of climate change.”
It is our responsibility to ensure his voice and many others are heard.