Protect Not Punish Refugees

After the government forces through the Nationality & Borders Bill we fight on…

Today, in the face of overwhelming opposition, and forced to resort to strong-arm tactics in the House of Lords, the Government has managed to steamroller the catastrophic Nationality and Borders Bill through Parliament.

The bill will harm people seeking sanctuary

This bill will punish refugees who have been left with no other options to find safety from war and persecution by taking dangerous journeys to get to the UK, and it will criminalise people for simply trying. It’s completely at odds with the UN Refugee Convention and will see the UK renege on our international obligations.

Dispatching people who need safety and deserve dignity, to detention centres in Rwanda indefinitely, leaves them isolated, separated from family and in limbo about their future. These measures are an immensely punitive move for people that have already gone through immeasurable harm. And there’s substantial evidence from Australia that shows despite the monumental price-tag, off-shoring did nothing to prevent arrivals, which is precisely why the policy was eventually abandoned by the Australians.

It doesn’t represent the will of the british people

The UK public has shown they are not behind this bill and its policies that seek to treat refugees inhumanely, subjecting them to conditions that could be just as bad as or even worse than those they’ve already endured. According to an Opinium survey for the British Red Cross last month, 62% of the public agree that the UK should welcome refugees fleeing war or persecution from across the world. More recently over 200,000 people signed up to host refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine.

Communities up and down the country have demonstrated they believe in a more compassionate approach to refugees. Even MPs on the Government’s own benches have repeatedly urged Ministers to think again, accept reforms and change course.
No one wants to see people having to risk their lives in the Channel in search of sanctuary in this country. But this bill simply leaves refugees no other alternative options.

Significant blow, but we’ve made huge progress

Though, while the bill passing does represent a significant blow, we have also made significant strides in our longer-term struggle for change. Together we have succeeded in influencing many more MPs from across the political divide, got our message of hope out to millions of people through media and social media and persuaded more people to stand up for the rights of people fleeing war and persecution. We will continue to press the government on our calls – such as on setting a clear annual target for resettling refugees from around the world, which they can readily do outside the bill.

Kindness and compassion will win …

We should take a moment to celebrate all that we’ve achieved together over the last year. We will be drawing on the vitality and breadth of our coalition of over 400 organisations, and supporters up and down the country, who have shown their resolve to fight the bill every step.

The huge resistance that the government has faced in pushing through these policies will make it more difficult to implement. And as a movement we will dust ourselves down, and come together in greater force to push for the fairer, kinder and more effective approach to refugees, that the vast majority of British people want to see.