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Calling on Cambridge City Council to commit to resettling 100 Syrian refugees

posted 26 Oct 2016, 01:34 by Leonie Anna Mueck   [ updated 26 Oct 2016, 01:43 ]

-- by Leonie Mueck


This Tuesday, representatives of Cambridge Refugee Resettlement Campaign had the honour of meeting Tim Farron, Leader of the Liberal Democrats. We took the opportunity to call on the City Council to double the number of Syrian refugees to be resettled in Cambridge under the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme from 50 to 100.


Mr Farron had come to give a speech at the Cambridge Union, but also wanted to know how Cambridge had reacted to the refugee crisis. We were very happy to brief him about our efforts, concerns, and suggestions of what local and national authorities could do better to support refugees in the UK. Other Cambridge-based refugee charities, namely Cambridge Calais Refugee Action Group, Cambridge City of Sanctuary, Cambridge Amnesty International, Cambridge University Calais Refugee Action Group and the Cambridge Ethnic Community Forum joined us at the meeting.


Our call for Cambridge City Council to double its commitment was met with sympathy from Tim Farron, who is known for “banging on about refugees” and being proud of it. He made a story about his visit to Lesbos in 2015 a centrepiece of his conference speech, recalling how he was recognized as a British politician by an aid worker from New Zealand while handing out water to arriving refugees. The aid worker reportedly shouted at him: “Stop handing out bottles of water and take some f***ing refugees.” As a proud Brit, Farron felt ashamed at this image of the UK not stepping up and pulling its weight.

Resettle 100 Syrian Refugees in Cambridge!

We take pride in being from Cambridge, an open-minded, diverse gem of a city with a great history of giving sanctuary to those fleeing war and persecution and a strong civil society. Giving the most vulnerable a home is part of our identity.  Hence we were pleased when the City Council committed to resettling 50 Syrian refugees under the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme, which aims to bring 20,000 Syrian refugees to the UK until 2020, here in Cambridge. A fair few of those 50 Syrians have now arrived in Cambridge and are making great strides towards rebuilding their lives. We have been so impressed by their resilience and their eagerness to integrate, keeping in mind what they have been through.


But we feel that committing to merely 50 individuals is just not enough and that Cambridge can do more. Cambridge City Council passed a motion last year that declared Cambridge to be a  “City of Sanctuary”. Civil society has been working flat out to live up to this promise. Now it’s the politicians’ turn!


There are many historical precedents: When we resettled Chileans that had to flee due to the Pinochet coup, Cambridge took 200 individuals. In fact, one of them, Camila Iturra, is a founding member of Cambridge Refugee Resettlement Campaign. (You should watch the film she made about the Chilean resettlement in Cambridge, by the way, it’s wonderful!)


Dear Cambridge City Council, dear Lewis Herbert: Make us proud to be from Cambridge! Commit to resettling 100 Syrian refugees here!

If you want to help us and get the council to commit to resettling 100 Syrians in Cambridge, write to your councillor! You can find out how to contact them here http://democracy.cambridge.gov.uk/mgMemberIndex.aspx?bcr=1 . Or you can use ‘Write to Them’ (https://www.writetothem.com/): Just enter your postcode to find your councillors and MP’s.

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