Today (28 July) marks the 70th anniversary since the UK signed the UN Refugee Convention. Following the horrors of World War Two, we committed alongside other nations to protect people fleeing war and persecution. Since then, the convention has saved thousands of people – including those fleeing civil war in the Balkans, torture in Zimbabwe and war in Syria. That’s something we can all be proud of now, and something we must protect for the future.
It’s particularly vital because the Government’s new Bill threatens the UK’s commitment to the fundamental principles of the convention and of the UK as a place of refugee protection. As the UN warned of the UK’s plans recently in unusually strong language: “UNHCR is concerned that the plan, if implemented as it stands, will undermine the 1951 Convention and international protection system, not just in the UK, but globally.”
The Orange Hearts campaign gathers pledges of support from local people to be projected on landmarks across the country, as the Nationality and Borders Bill is considered by MPs in October and December.
Seven refugees from seven decades and seven places will come together to celebrate 70 years of the UK welcoming refugees. They will tell their powerful stories and the people who welcomed them. Just as the UK did 70 years ago, the seven people taking part will sign their names to signify support for the spirit of the convention. But this time they will be signing a large orange heart – the symbol of a kinder, fairer approach to refugees.
You can also join and Share Refugee Action’s #CommitToResettlement campaign, calling on the Government to announce a target for refugee resettlement (it’s the first time in almost two decades the Government hasn’t done this).
Nationality and Borders Bill
The Government’s long trailed Nationality and Borders Bill was introduced to Parliament last week, and MPs will debate it for the first time next week. There are then many months of discussion ahead before it becomes law.
If passed, this cruel law would be a hammer blow to the UK as a place of safety for people fleeing war and persecution. Worse still, it will compound problems in the system that really do need to be fixed. As well as being inhumane, many of its provisions will be expensive and unworkable.
The Government says the proposed new law will put in place measures to ‘fix the broken asylum system’ which it set out in the New Plan for Immigration in April’21. Yet while it does little to address pressing problems in the system, such as the large and growing backlog of people waiting for decisions on their asylum claim, it contains measures which compound these and make it ever harder for people fleeing war and persecution to find safety in the UK.
Some of the key areas of concern in the Bill identified by members of Together With Refugees include:
One aim of the media and social media activity on 28 July is to launch Together With Refugees’ Orange Hearts Pledge campaign. From August to December 2021 we’re calling on Together With Refugees coalition members in local communities across the country to: