Scottish charities sign letter to Prime Minister calling for humanitarian visas for migrants


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(Aaron Chown / PA) (PA Cable)

A group of Scottish charities have signed an open letter to the Prime Minister and Home Secretary calling for humanitarian visas and safe routes to the sanctuary as the Nationality and Borders Bill enters its final phase of the communes.

Over 80 civil society representatives across the UK including refugee and homeless organizations, lawyers, social housing providers, unions, teachers’ unions, educational institutions and religious communities are signatories to the letter.

Scottish organizations and individuals include Positive Action in Housing, the Scottish Refugee Council, Lord Kerr of Kinlochard, St Mungos, Unison Scotland, Edinburgh Poverty Commission, Iona Community Migration Network and PATH (Scotland).

They express serious concerns about how the government is fulfilling its responsibilities under the 1951 International Refugee Convention and how it is responding to last week’s sinking in the English Channel, when at least 27 people drowned while trying to get to Dover.

Robina Qureshi, director of Glasgow’s Positive Action in Housing charity, which is dedicated to helping refugees and migrants rebuild their lives, said: “Mourning for the dead hasn’t stopped the UK government from wanting to end with the Refugee Convention.

“The Nationality and Boundaries Bill seeks to criminalize those who survive the peril of the seas and those in Dover who try to help them, and risks having deadly consequences for the relatively few who seek refuge here.

“This anti-refugee bill does nothing to increase safe roads.

“With limited resettlement options, dangerous passages are the only route for most people seeking asylum in the UK.

“Further, there is no evidence to support the government’s claims that the changes proposed in the bill will undermine smuggling networks.

“The facts are that 90% of the world’s refugees stay in their own region.

“Europe is not taking its fair share of the world’s refugees, and neither is the UK.

“We are not the preferred destination in Europe. We’re way down the list.

“In addition, the overall number of refugees in the UK is now half of what it was 20 years ago.

“The reason the number of ships is increasing is that more and more people are being driven to these dangerous sea crossings.

“Our inability to provide a safe route makes us complicit with the smugglers.

“They can make a profit, but our inability to intervene has led to the drowning of innocent people.”

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