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. At that time the City of Sanctuary network almost doubled and has continued to grow, but as a movement we are called to action once again, this time to ‘Stand up for Sanctuary’. We must respond to the appalling media coverage and political scapegoating of people seeking sanctuary across the English Channel. We must call out the media and those politicians seeking to dehumanise the plight of the people in desperate need of safety crossing the channel.
We urge politicians and media alike to respond with the same empathy and humanity that we did in 2015 – the desperate people making the dangerous journey across the channel are someone’s father, brother, son and friend. The UK should be aspiring to be a country that stands up for sanctuary and welcomes people seeking safety.
Our two key messages are clear …
– It is entirely legal for a refugee to enter the UK without documents in order to seek sanctuary
The small number of 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. It is simply unacceptable that politicians and the media alike have repeatedly referred to the crossings as ‘illegal’ or ‘criminal’. No one wants to risk their lives on a boat unless it is the only way forward and there is no way back.
– The UK needs to provide safe and legal routes to save lives
The UK does not provide a visa route to make a claim for protection, nor does it provide adequate resettlement or refugee family reunion, the only way to make a claim is to do so on British soil. The Government must take a compassionate approach and listen to the evidence and recommendations from people with lived experience and experts on the humane and effective solutions to make refugee journeys safer.
What you can do –
Write to your MP (template letter here)
Social Media – IMIX are calling for more positive stories to be shared using the #ChangeTheStory
Read and share JCWI Briefing: Safe and Legal Routes to the UK and share this with your MP.
Complain about media coverage – whether in print, radio or television, for further information on how to complain follow this link and/or use the template letter created by Help Refugees. You can also sign the Apologise and stop dehumanizing filming of asylum seekers crossing the Channel petition at Change.Org.
Educate yourself and others by arming yourself with facts. The Huffington Post have published a useful up to date guide to The Truth Behind Seven Myths About Asylum Seekers