The murder of George Floyd in the United States, and the police brutality we have seen in America and the UK against Black Lives Matter protestors over the past fortnight, remind us that white supremacy and institutionalised racism remain deeply imbedded in our society.
The Refugee Council exists to empower refugees and people seeking asylum to rebuild their lives in the UK, and recover from the trauma of fleeing unimaginable hardship and persecution in conflict zones, and making often perilous journeys to safety in the UK. Our vision is one where refugees and people seeking asylum are welcomed into our communities, treated with fairness, respect and dignity, and supported to fulfil their potential. We stand in solidarity with black and minority ethnic communities, and speak out against racism in all its forms.
We are gravely concerned that, for too many refugees and people seeking asylum, racist hate crimes, state-imposed violence, and both institutionalised and casual racism mean their daily experience of living in the UK is marred by a constant fear of violence and discrimination.
In the UK, the stark reality is that we have a shameful history of slavery and colonisation, and this system of racism has caused unspeakable harm to black and minority ethnic groups in our communities. The damaging effects of this legacy are still with us today, and it is the responsibility of all of us to play a role in rebuilding and shaping fairer, more inclusive communities, free from racism, violence and hatred. Changes need to be far-reaching to have a real and long lasting impact – from the school curriculum to the criminal justice system, from our local communities to global efforts to tackle racism and injustice.
At the Refugee Council we have a long history of campaigning with and for refugees and people seeking asylum to ensure their rights are respected, but we must do more. Recently we were saddened to learn that, after three months of campaigning alongside our allies in the sector for people seeking asylum to be granted the same £20 Covid-related uplift given to Universal Credit recipients back in March 2020, the Home Office announced an insulting uplift of just 26p per day. It is entirely unacceptable that people seeking asylum are forced to live on a budget of less than £6 per day, and we will keep on calling for this injustice to be dismantled.
Refugees and people seeking asylum are some of the most marginalised people in our society, and we remain dedicated to raising their voices and speaking out against violence, injustice and discrimination. We also recognise, as an organisation, that we are not perfect and can always do more to educate ourselves, to build strong relationships with black and minority ethnic communities and to challenge all forms of racism.