People in towns and cities throughout the UK came together in silence to remember the men, women and children who perished at sea. The vigils were organised following news that 27 people trying to reach safety here in the UK, drowned in the Channel.
The vigils were organised by Care for Calais, City of Sanctuary and other members of the Together With Refugees coalition. Together 350 organisations are calling for a kinder, fairer and more effective approach to refugees. Vigils were held in Brighton, Glasgow, Govan, Grassington, Hastings, Lancaster, Lewisham, Manchester, Skipton and Winchester. The groups held candles and orange hearts in memory of those lost at sea. Together With Refugees is calling on the government to fundamentally rethink the proposals in the Nationality and Borders Bill. It wants the government to create safe routes for people fleeing persecution, rather than abandoning them to smugglers and terrifying journeys. It’s calling on the government to create 10,000 resettlement places every year so that people don’t have to make these perilous journeys.
The extremely limited alternative ‘safe routes’ available for people fleeing war and persecution to reach the UK mean many take dangerous journeys such as by boat over the Channel. But proposed new laws in the Nationality and Borders Bill currently making its way through Parliament will turn people away who come via these ‘unofficial routes’ just because of how they got here and regardless of their need for protection.
Almost all people who make the journey in small boats apply for asylum. For those arriving from the top 10 countries, 61% were granted refugee status at initial decision stage, with an even greater percentage granted at appeal stage.