Campaigners mark World Refugee Day with a call to end hostile environment

Written by Liam Kirkaldy on 20 June 2018 in News

Hundreds of people will gather in George Square to lay out ‘welcome mats’ to show solidarity with those who have been forced to flee their homes

Image credit: British Red Cross

Campaigners will today gather in Glasgow to mark World Refugee Day with a call to create an alternative to the UK’s ‘hostile environment’ approach to immigration.

With MSPs set to debate the UK’s treatment of people seeking asylum in the chamber this afternoon, hundreds of people will gather in George Square to lay out ‘welcome mats’ to show solidarity with those who have been forced to flee their homes.

The Home Office faced criticism over its ‘hostile environment’ approach to immigration after it emerged that British residents who came to the UK from the Caribbean decades ago had been targeted with deportation.

Others lost out on healthcare, employment and housing because they could not prove their status - despite having lived legally in the UK for decades.

Meanwhile a report the Scottish Parliament’s Equalities and Human Rights Committee, released last year, warned the UK asylum system is lacking in “compassion and humanity” and is driving people in Scotland with insecure immigration status into destitution.

Sabir Zazai, CEO of Scottish Refugee Council, said the event aimed to show “there is an alternative to the hostile environment, that communities are stronger, richer and happier when we unite and recognise each other as neighbours and friends”.

The event, coordinated by Amnesty Scotland, Oxfam Scotland and Scottish Refugee Council as part of Refugee Festival Scotland, will also feature live Samba music and messages of welcome, written to people arriving in Scotland from across the country.

Jamie Livingstone, head of Oxfam Scotland, said: “Throughout history Scotland has welcomed refugees; providing safety, friendship and hospitality. World Refugee Day provides us with an important opportunity for us all to demonstrate that we will continue to stand together in solidarity, and also to celebrate the rich contributions New Scots have made towards our culture, communities and country.”

Scotland has so far resettled 2,224 refugees from Syria, nearly a fifth of the total number who have been resettled to the UK.

Naomi McAuliffe, Amnesty International’s Scotland programme director, said: “No-one chooses to be a refugee, to risk their losing their families or their lives on dangerous journeys to unknown destinations. On World Refugee Day, let’s remember that, and focus on the things that connect us as human beings such as our names and personal stories. We must stand together in solidarity to welcome refugees and refuse to let fear and prejudice win.”

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