Hammersmith and Fulham Council Extends Welcome to Refugees

One local Councillor was forced to flee Syria as a child

Hammersmith & Fulham Council are calling on the Government to provide financial support to enable it to respond to the current refugee crisis.

One of the borough’s councillors Ali Hashem, who represents North End Ward in Fulham, himself fled conflict in Syria as a refugee many years ago. He is backing the council’s call to welcome refugees in need.

H&F Council Leader, Stephen Cowan, said: “Like our residents, we have been deeply touched by the terrible plight of people fleeing the horrific war in the Middle East and other humanitarian crises.

“The atrocities that appear in our media are just the tip of the iceberg causing the biggest refugee crisis in a generation.

“There is a long British tradition of welcoming and supporting refugees and Hammersmith & Fulham has always done its bit by offering shelter and support. Indeed, many refugees have subsequently made invaluable contributions to our borough and our country."

He believe it is critical that the UK Government now urgently implements a system to identify refugee families so that the borough and other councils can do the right thing and provide the necessary support.

Acknowledging that the housing crisis is already causing hardship for many local people, Councillor Cowan added, "We have a humanitarian duty to assist families in such desperate need.  We know from speaking to residents over recent days and weeks that many stand ready to help us in finding accommodation and to work with refugee families as they arrive to help them recover from their prolonged ordeals and rebuild their lives.”

Dozens more councils across the country are coming forward to offer to resettle refugees in their area in response to a joint campaign by Citizens UK, Avaaz and 38 Degrees.

The following local authorities have formally pledged to resettle refugees locally: Edinburgh, Glasgow, Birmingham, Newcastle, Stroud, Cambridge, Kingston upon Thames, Hackney, Malvern Hills, Liverpool, Islington, Nottinghamshire, Bradford, Bristol, Ealing and Bedford. Together their combined pledges are to resettle over 750 people.

Meanwhile according to Citizens UK, thousands of people have come forward to offer rooms and while unfortunately these can’t be accepted over 350 landlords have offered full use of entire properties in just 48 hours. They are planning to launch a new phase in their resettlement campaign, calling for at the very least 20,000 people to be resettled over two years and for the creation of a National Welcome and Resettlement Board.

In previous refugee crises Resettlement Boards have been created to bring together major civil society groups, business and government efforts to provide for those in need of resettlement. Citizens UL say that one of the best examples of such a Board was the Polish Resettlement Board created after the Second World War which resettled over 100,000 Poles, many of whom were veterans and had fought in the Battle of Britain.

Zrinka Bralo, CEO of Migrants Organise and herself a Bosnian Refugee, is leading hundreds in the impromptu vigil to be held in Westminster Cathedral Piazza at 7pm on Tuesday (8 September) to remember the plight of children like Alyan, and the millions so far displaced across Syria.

Zrinka said, “It’s clear though that the desire to roll up our sleeves and resettle tens of thousands of the most vulnerable people to Britain is real and massive. We have a long tradition of coming together as a country to defend those in need of protection. We need a Syrian Welcome and Resettlement Board to coordinate a nationwide effort to tackle this crisis.”

Councillor Cowan urged local residents to make a financial donation if they are able.

The following organisations support refugees if you wish to donate.

Refugee Council: A donation of £100 could pay for items such as shoes and clothes for newly arrived children.

Unicef: The UN’s children’s charity is providing life-saving supplies.

Save the Children: a donation of £50 could buy two hygiene kits including soap, towels and toothbrushes.

International Rescue Committee: Supporting people in crisis

British Red Cross: A donation of £30 could buy 28 mats to help Syria refugees cope with the cold.

Islamic Relief: Three families could be fed for a month on a donation of £210, the charity says, while just £35 can feed a family for two weeks.

Médecins Sans Frontières: The humanitarian agency has three rescue ships in the Mediterranean.

Migrant Offshore Aid Station: The charity runs independent boats to rescue migrants.

Aylan Kurdi Fund: A fund named after the drowned boy whose pictures emerged in the media. All proceeds will go to the humanitarian agency Hand in Hand for Syria.



September 8, 2015

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