At the February 1st meeting of Northampton Town of Sanctuary Councillors Haque and Ashraf will be reporting back about the City of Sanctuary lobby of Parliament held on December 1st 2015.
The meeting will also hear from Kommertje Homes. Kommertje has set up a collection and distribution project and regularly takes goods out to refugee camps in Europe. This week she is in Greece taking over much needed items of clothes for babies.
People seeking refugee protection in the UK are often forced into homelessness and poverty. Asylum seekers who have no other means of support receive only £36.95 per week, just over £5 per day, to pay for food, clothing, toiletries, transport and other essential living needs. They are also not allowed to work. In August 2015, support rates for children were cut drastically by 30%. To date, asylum support under Section 95 amounts to barely 50% of Income Support.
The UK routinely detains people indefinitely and detains more migrants than any other European country except Greece. Despite receiving over four times as many asylum applications, Germany detained only three people for every 20 that the UK detained. The UK is alone in detaining them indefinitely, without time limit, without trial, and sometimes for years on end.
At the end of June 2015, 3,418 people were in detention, 11% higher than the number recorded at the end of June last year. Despite the increase in numbers detained, there has been a continuing decline since 2011 in the proportion of detainees being removed from the UK following their detention.
We are facing the biggest refugee crisis since WWII. There were over 19.5 million refugees worldwide at the end of 2014. Devastating civil wars and dictatorial regimes are forcing more people from countries like Syria, Eritrea and Sudan to seek safety from persecution. Yet despite the growing number of refugees globally, the number of people finding safety in Britain remains low. The number of refugees, pending asylum cases and stateless persons still only equates to just 0.24% of the UK population.
Cllr Danielle Stone, Leader of the Labour Group, said,
“Northampton Town of Sanctuary wants to ensure that refugees seeking asylum in our town are made welcome and are given the support they need to settle and to become part of our communities. There is a humanitarian crisis on our borders. We need to respond to it and hold out the hand of friendship. Many of our communities are already under pressure. We know that. Refugees are more likely to be placed in communities that are already under pressure. We know that. It is our job to make sure local people are part of the welcome that is offered so we can work through all the issues together. We have been pleasantly surprised at how many people have said they will offer rooms, clothes, goods, friendship. Northampton should certainly welcome these refugees currently making their way into Europe. Northampton can and should be a town of sanctuary for these refugees. It is friendship above all else that will make the difference”.