Lambeth Council will now take 100 child refugees following a Green Party amendment that was passed at Wednesday’s council meeting.
The fivefold increase from the previous commitment to take just 20 refugees under the Safe Passage pledge brings the council in line with other local authorities such as green run Brighton and Hove (1) (2).
The move comes as the Government pushes through a draconian new Nationality and Borders Bill which campaigners say will tear up the protections offered by the Refugee Convention.
Green Party councillor, Scott Ainslie said: “The whole world is facing a huge refugee crisis, in tandem with the pandemic. We believe we should be doing all we can to support refugees and we applaud the vital work our NGOs, voluntary sector organisations and public servants are doing to help refugees feel welcome.
But, successive UK governments, as far back as 2007 when New Labour Immigration Minister, Liam Byrne, introduced the concept of a ‘hostile environment’, have implemented policy that appeases racist nationalism.
In failing to come up with a more humane immigration system the UK government is instead looking to arrest its way out of a crisis – in far too many cases, detaining people in appalling conditions in places like Napier Barraks and Yarls Wood – with no access to education, health and where many suffer abuse, medical neglect and despair. In some cases, stripped of hope, some self harm and look to take their own lives. What an absolute affront to human dignity.
This brutal and heartless agenda is completely at odds with public opinion. When thousands of neighbours stood together to prevent an immigration raid in Glasgow, we saw what the British public really thinks (3).
It’s time to end the hostile environment, provide safe routes for refugees, and put the smugglers and traffickers out of business for good. The Green Party councillors in Lambeth have shown that where the national government fails, local governments can step up, to accommodate vulnerable refugees who look to settle in Lambeth.”
Co-leader of the Green Group, councillor Jonathan Bartley came up with the idea of increasing the number of child refugees that Lambeth Council takes.
Speaking after the Council meeting he said; “Having visited Calais three times to meet child refugees seeking safe passage to the UK I am in no doubt that local authorities such as Lambeth can both transform the lives of these young people but also challenge the Government’s hostile environment by showing this kind of leadership.”