Call for governments to act on “vulnerable, desperate people”.
Green Party leader Natalie Bennett will be visiting Birmingham to discuss her party’s stance on the ongoing refugee crisis following the partial destruction of the Jungle camp in Calais.
Ms Bennett will be guest speaker at a meeting organised by Stand Up To Racism Birmingham on Wednesday at Carrs Lane Church, Carrs Lane in the city centre at 7pm. The meeting aims to bring activists and leaders of different groups together to consider what can be done to help refugees on a local level.
Describing the French authorities’ decision to demolish the southern part of the camp as “sad and disturbing,” she added: “Vulnerable, desperate people are being left shelterless and the use of teargas in the presence of women, including pregnant women and children, is of particular concern.”
On the UK’s role in the demolition of the camp she said: “Direct responsibility for the police action lies with the French government, but failure to provide a safe, legal mechanism by which people with the right to live in Britain can get here from Calais and Dunkirk lies with the British government.”
The SUTR group believe the refugee crisis on the borders of Europe has ramped up racism, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism in the UK, with religious hate crimes increasing by 43% in 2014/2015 than in the previous year. SUTR is inviting members of the public to discuss how to tackle these issues. Other speakers attending the event include Labour Councillor Mariam Khan, assistant general secretary of Unison Roger McKenzie, member of The Muslim Council of Britain Talha Ahmad and a performance by Basil Gabbidon, founding member of Birmingham-based reggae band Steel Pulse.
The Green Party is campaigning for a safe, legal route for refugees in Calais to be reunited with family living in the UK, particularly the hundreds of children residing in the camp. This follows news of a 15-year-old Afghani boy, Masud, who had suffocated and died in a lorry trying to reach his sister living in the UK.
Ms Bennett attended Masud’s memorial service and described this incident as a tragic indictment of our current policy. “Britain has a legal responsibility, as well as a moral one, to welcome far more refugees. As a wealthy European nation we should be welcoming our fair share of the refugees already in the EU, and working to establish an orderly resettlement programme that allows them to get here without risking their lives.
“We have a particular responsibility given that many of the refugees come from Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria – places whose current circumstances are in part a result of our disastrous policy of military intervention in their countries.”
Ms Bennett commended efforts made by groups like SUTR Birmingham in providing support and aid to volunteers working on the ground. She said: “When I visited Calais one of the inspiring, heartwarming things was the role of volunteers in keeping life for the refugees there liveable, if barely. It’s been efforts like SUTR’s that have kept total disaster at bay. I see the volunteer and campaigning effort around this issue as starting a whole new social and political movement.”
More information about the event can be found at www.facebook.com/events/1683281181940013/
The group is also urging people to attend a UN anti-racism day protest on March 19 in London to put pressure on the government to allow more refugees to seek asylum in Britain. For more information visit the Twitter feed.