March 18, 2022
Ukrainian Refugee Response and the Anti-Refugee Bill
Find out what we think about the cruel changes to law and the Ukrainian refugee situation.Our statement
LRMN is proud to be part of a community that is so willing and committed to helping people seeking sanctuary. Across South London, we have seen an extraordinary wave of support and generosity, especially from those who are willing to open up their homes to those fleeing the unfolding violence in Ukraine.
For those who would like to offer their support*, we would encourage you to contact the brilliant charity Refugees At Home, who have extensive experience with rehoming refugees so that they can begin rebuilding their lives. If you are in Lewisham, you can offer your home to any refugees being resettled in Lewisham by contacting Lewisham Council, who would be happy to help. Any refugees and migrants in Lewisham are also able to access our services via our online referral form or by calling our office on 020 8694 0323.
*(Please click here for updated information)
Unfortunately, as the ‘Homes for Ukraine’ scheme has only recently been announced, we are still waiting for more details. Currently, we do not have the capacity nor funding to practically support this scheme; but we hope that the details of the scheme will demonstrate a real will to make it work.
We urgently seek clarity from the Government on how the scheme will embed safeguarding and support for those accessing it. Understandably, many of those on the scheme will require additional services, including mental health support, advice on navigating the UK system, and potentially emergency supplies.
In the case that these details give organisations such as ourselves and our incredible community an opportunity to truly welcome refugees, we believe that this scheme should be open to all refugees, who are equally deserving of the protection, safety and welcome that our community wishes to extend. Refugees fleeing violence and persecution in Ukraine, Syria, Ethiopia, Yemen, Iran, and other countries all have the same desire to rebuild their lives in a place of safety – they should be afforded the same opportunity to do so.
It is imperative to keep in mind that, in line with the Refugee Convention, people making claims under the convention and seeking humanitarian protection, do not need visas or sponsors to enter into a country and claim asylum.
The Homes for Ukraine scheme, and indeed both the crises in Afghanistan and Ukraine, have come at a pivotal time for UK Immigration Law. The Nationality and Borders Bill, elements of which have already been rejected by the House of Lords on the basis of their cruelty, returns to the House of Commons on Tuesday 22nd March. This Bill, dubbed the Anti-Refugee Bill, threatens to criminalise people seeking safety and refuge from violence and persecution, classifying them by their means of entry as ‘deserving’ or not of our help and protection.
As an organisation committed to building sanctuary, we are deeply concerned about supporting refugees into a national system that has been, and continues to be, hostile to migrants, refugees and asylum seekers. We urge those who are concerned about the welfare of Ukrainians, and all other refugees, to fight against this devastating piece of legislation by joining the national action against the Bill, and by writing to and tweeting their MPs.
As always, we at LRMN are committed to empowering migrants, refugees and asylum seekers to rebuild their lives in an environment that is safe and welcoming, offering them the support they need to do so. It is heartening to see the generosity and willingness of people to support those seeking sanctuary in the UK – offering time, donations, and some even their homes. This is the kind of inclusive and egalitarian culture we have been working to build in Lewisham and Greenwich. We hope that the Government reflects this warmth and inclusivity when voting on the Nationality and Borders Bill, and truly represents this country’s compassion to those seeking sanctuary.