Norwich residents came together yesterday to express support and solidarity with refugees, particularly given the current situation in Afghanistan. I was sorry not to be able to attend and I’d like to thank Jess Barnard for reading out my message :
‘As the tragedy of Afghanistan unfolds before us it is imperative we in this country provide much needed security to those now at risk from being targeted by the Taliban.
This is not a matter of guilt but rather one of responsibility. As many Afghans as need safe sanctuary should be allowed here. Why? Because we insisted on going there! It’s an obligation and debt we must repay.
The fact that so many of the biggest supporters of this war are now the same people getting cold feet about allowing them sanctuary here, tells you all you need to know about ‘Global Britain’. It is a sham that has been shown up for the empty rhetoric it is.
I have asked the Government to urgently publish a plan for how those seeking asylum will be evacuated. Already my office is dealing with a growing number of desperate constituents attempting to escape themselves or get their families out. Despite their plight our Govt has failed to offer almost zero advice and support for them on how to do that.
Without that help, many more will now face perilous and dangerous journeys to get here over many months. But given the up coming and pernicious immigration and asylum bill, the welcome they will receive here from state authorities will be criminalisation and hostile environment. This is the reality that awaits them and one we must all fight together in the coming months.
I’ll conclude by saying what has happened to many Afghan people – literally made stateless overnight and forced to flee for safety – is the story of the refugee. For centuries our wonderful city of Norwich has offered sanctuary to them. And I know it will again because that’s the kind of loving, compassionate city I’m so proud to represent. We will demand proper funding and support from this Govt to ensure they can adapt as quickly and effortlessly as possible. Many will be traumatised. Others will need help adapting to life here. Despite all that we will welcome them for the fellow human beings they are and the enrichment they will bring to our city and all our lives.
With the climate crisis upon us, so to is the age of the refugee, as massive disruption and economic break down become more likely, not less. The situation in Afghanistan and every other country where refugees are struggling, is a litmus test of our humanity and how we will conduct ourselves in the coming years. We must not fail.
Thank you Norwich.’
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