A moving film of holocaust survivor Steven Frank was projected on to the white cliffs of Dover by Freedom from Torture, Together With Refugees, Aegis Trust and Led By Donkeys. This comes at a crucial moment as MPs prepare to vote on the Nationality and Borders Bill, and the government faces increasing criticism for its response to refugees fleeing Ukraine.
The film urges the Prime Minister to rethink the bill, which undermines Britain’s commitments under the UN refugee convention. Steven Frank explains how the policies in this bill would have stopped him from entering the UK when he survived the Holocaust as a child and was brought here by an RAF pilot without papers or visa.,
“If the Nationality and Borders Bill had been in place when I arrived in this country in June 1945″ explained Steven Frank. “I would have been denied entry to the United Kingdom, I would have been sent, no doubt, to a detention centre somewhere, and then put on a plane and sent back to Holland.”
He called on the Prime Minister to show some humanity.
“Boris Johnson, please, show some humanity… let a lot of these people in. They will only show you gratitude, as so many refugees did when they escaped from Nazi Germany and came to this country.”
He drew the link between his situation and the Nationality and Borders Bill and made an impassioned plea to the Prime Minister:
“Rules were introduced after the holocaust to provide protection for refugees. But Boris Johnson if your Nationality and Borders Bill had been in place when I made my journey I wouldn’t be here today. I’m asking you Prime Minister, please rethink this bill. Do not tear up rules that protect refugees. The Nationality and Borders Bill is not the kind of generous Britain that gave me a chance to build a life here.”
Polling shows that 77% of the UK public support allowing Ukrainian refugees to travel to the UK without visas. Despite this strong public feeling the government has resisted calls to scrap visa requirements for Ukrainians. Meanwhile the Nationality and Borders Bill aims to criminalise refugees who reach the UK without papers.
Together With Refugees is calling for an end to the proposal in the Bill that seeks to criminalise refugees because of how they arrive here, regardless of what they are fleeing. We are also calling for a government target to resettle a minimum of 10,000 refugees globally every year. Furthermore, we call on the government to put in place immediate measures to ensure Ukrainian refugees can come to the UK safely and easily, without visas, and be able to claim refugee protection if they choose when they get here.