Top British celebrities are calling on the Prime Minster to offer save haven to Syrian refugees.
The stars, including Refugee Council Patron Emma Thompson, Grayson Perry, Michael Palin, Vivienne Westwood and Juliet Stevenson, have written an open letter to David Cameron asking him to offer protection to the most vulnerable people who have been displaced by the conflict.
The celebrities are backing a call from the UK’s top refugee agencies, led by the Refugee Council, for the UK to play its part in a global resettlement programme for Syrian refugees.
The UNHCR is appealing for western countries to take offer resettlement places for the most vulnerable people in the region. So far 18 countries including Germany, France and the USA have signed up.
The charities and celebrities are concerned that vulnerable people including the elderly, disabled and women at risk of sexual violence are finding it difficult to survive the harsh winter conditions in the region.
The stars’ letter asks the Prime Minister to do two things:
- To make it possible for Syrians with a connection to the UK, particularly those who have family members recognised as refugees by the UK government, to be assisted to enter the UK to join their families and communities
- To heed UNHCR’s call to help the countries bordering Syria and, as a matter of urgency, to establish a substantial and coordinated resettlement programme in the UK with a focus on the more vulnerable refugees as identified by the UNHCR.
The celebrities say in their letter:
“We have been deeply upset and angered by the coverage of the Syrian conflict brought into our living rooms by the world’s media. Winter is approaching and conditions are worsening. It’s clear that money alone won’t solve this problem. Practical action is needed.
“Now is the time to step forward and play our part in delivering a global solution so that those who are most vulnerable find safety outside of the region: women at risk of sexual violence, children who have been orphaned; people who simply will not survive in the conditions in the camps on Syria’s borders.
“Money is no longer enough. We must provide a safe haven to the most vulnerable. On behalf of Syrians in the UK desperately anxious about the safety of their loved ones we are asking you to help, as a father, as a humanitarian and as a world leader.”
Refugee Council Chief Executive Maurice Wren said: “The UK has a proud tradition of protecting refugees and offering safety to people in their hour of greatest need. For people fleeing Syria, that time is now. We simply must respond by providing safe haven to the most vulnerable people or they may not survive the bitter winter conditions.
“Syria and its surrounding countries face a human catastrophe of colossal proportions. If Syria’s neighbours close their borders the consequences will be disastrous. Western countries have a moral imperative to show solidarity with the countries bordering Syria by sharing the responsibility for protecting the most vulnerable people fleeing the violence.
“People’s lives and the stability of the region could depend on it.”