Refugees need solidarity, not a hostile environment

A statement from Anti*Capitalist Resistance.

 

Statement by Anti-Capitalist Resistance (A*CR) on the Refugee situation in Europe and the UK following the Russian invasion of Ukraine

A*CR views with great concern the situation facing millions of refugees now leaving Ukraine because of the Russian invasion. This is a human tragedy of unprecedented proportions for Europe in recent history. It is anticipated that over 5 million people may leave Ukraine and to date approximately 1.5 million have already done so, most of whom are women and children. Most of these refugees will not come to the UK but will want to stay close to their country and their relatives or friends who have stayed in Ukraine to fight the Russians.

This tragedy is already bringing out the best in humanitarian responses, as ordinary people and most governments respond positively to the challenges. But it is also bringing out the worse, in the form of racism and xenophobia by a minority of people, the hatred displayed by some right-wing/neo-fascist groups and one European government – the UK government – the only government not to offer visa-free entry for refugees from Ukraine, even for the close family of people living in the UK or British citizens, let alone others.

The Ukrainian refugee crisis has also highlighted the hypocrisy, double standards and racism/Islamaphobia at the heart of Europe’s refugee policies (Fortress Europe) in response to those also fleeing from other wars, conflicts and gross human rights abuses around the world – in particular Iran, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen, Sudan and elsewhere.

Refugees from Ukraine are being treated very differently and much more favourably – but in ways that ALL refugees seeking sanctuary should be treated, but are not. The treatment of refugees from Ukraine demonstrates (if anyone was in any doubt) that all the arguments to support and justify the harsh treatment of refugees, are bogus, without substance and largely based on bigotry, racism and Islamaphobia. Given the will and driven by humanitarian concerns, rather than narrow right-wing political agendas, refugees can be both accommodated and supported by all European governments and indeed most people in European countries do and want to help.

Of all European governments, the UK government stands out as the least supportive of refugees from Ukraine and maintains its hostile environment. It insists that all refugees wishing to come to the UK apply for a visa (unlike all other European governments who have suspended visa requirements). They are also using bureaucratic manoeuvres to halt, delay or prevent applications for visas to come to the UK. Such delays are causing pain and suffering to many people, including children. This treatment “on the ground” contrasts sharply with the generalised, vacuous and faux statements by the British government in support of the cause and plight of Ukrainians. The UK government’s position is simply outrageous and nasty.

In response to the Ukrainian and other humanitarian refugee crises A*CR calls for the following:

  • All visa requirements for refugees fleeing wars and conflicts around the worlds should be immediately suspended.
  • Offices to register refugee entering the UK should be established at all mainland UK ports of entry and all steps should be taken to facilitate refugees arriving at these ports of entry safely and at no cost.
  • The carriers liability requirements should be suspended for airlines and other transport companies (e.g. ferries) to help and facilitate the entry of refugees to the UK without fear of penalty to the carrier.
  • Emergency aid and a guaranteed package of support for all refugees arriving in the UK should be established including: 
    • education provision for children,
    • support for living costs,
    • provision of accommodation (if necessary by compulsory seizure of building that can be utilised for accommodation purposes),
    • counselling and other social services support,
    • English language support,
    • Free legal support.
  • All refugees shall be automatically granted leave to remain in the UK with the right to work and access to all public service on the same terms as residents are entitled to. This is common practice in most other European countries.
  • To support funding these services the government should seize all Russian government and Russian millionaire/oligarch’s assets, bank accounts and capital.


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