Creating Safe and Legal Routes for Refugees

September 4, 2015 2:36 PM
In Liberal Democrats fo Seekers of Sanctuary

We are pleased that our proposed motion to the Liberal Democrat Conference in Bournemouth has been accepted for debate on Saturday 19th September at 3.50 p.m.

This is the text.

Conference notes that:

  1. There are currently almost 20 million refugees worldwide, who have fled war and persecution, including nearly 4 million refugees who have fled the on-going conflict in Syria.
  2. The vast majority of refugees are hosted by developing countries. For example, only six per cent of Syrian refugees have sought safety in Europe.
  3. Increasing numbers of people are attempting extremely dangerous journeys across the Mediterranean, with over 100,000 arriving in Europe by sea and nearly 2,000 people dying making the journey in the first five months of 2015 alone.
  4. 33% of those crossing the Mediterranean have fled war-torn Syria, 10% have fled Eritrea, and 18% have fled Somalia and Afghanistan.

Conference welcomes the Liberal Democrat commitment to:

  1. i) Give sanctuary to refugees, as stated in the party's 2015 General Election Manifesto, Stronger Economy, and fairer society: Opportunity for Everyone.
  2. ii) Increase the number of refugees resettled in the UK to 1,500 a year, in line with the campaign by Citizens UK.

Conference expresses concern that:

  1. Governments across Europe are making it increasingly difficult for those fleeing war and persecution to seek safety on the continent by removing safe and legal routes and creating 'Fortress Europe'.
  2. The lack of safe and legal routes is forcing refugees to make dangerous journeys, resulting in the loss of life.
  3. Current UK policy limits the safe and legal routes available, including through a limited number of places for resettled refugees and overly restrictive family reunion rules that prevent, among others, adult children being reunited with their parents and siblings.
  4. Last December, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees called on governments around the world to provide resettlement and other forms of admission for 130,000 Syrian refugees by the end of 2016, yet the United Kingdom has only pledged to resettle several hundred of the most vulnerable Syrian refugees, and by the end of March 2015, just 187 Syrians had been resettled here.

Conference calls on the Government to:

  1. Create more safe and legal routes for refugees to seek safety in the UK by:
  2. Significantly increasing the number of refugees resettled in the UK through UNHCR programmes, offering thousands rather than hundreds of places to those fleeing war and persecution.
  3. Making it easier for refugees to join relatives already living in safety through UNHCR programmes in the United Kingdom.
  4. Continue to advocate for, and contribute to, the European search and rescue operation in the Mediterranean to save the lives of those who are forced to make dangerous journeys.
  5. In the long-term, tackle the root causes of why people become refugees so that fewer people feel compelled to flee their homes.
  6. Reaffirming the UK's international commitment to give protection to those fleeing war and persecution.

It may have amendments put to it at a later date, but we very much hope it will be agreed as being new Liberal Democrat policy

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