Deputy Prime Minister declares support for refugees - Refugee Council
May 10, 2011

Deputy Prime Minister declares support for refugees

Today, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg spoke out in support for refugees in the UK, and emphasised the importance of protecting people fleeing persecution and conflict today, 60 years on from the creation of the UN Convention for Refugees.

At the Refugee Council’s 60th anniversary celebration at our Day Centre in Brixton, Clegg spoke to people from across the refugee charity sector about the strides the coalition government have made since they came to power last year to ensure refugees in the UK get the help they need, including the end of child detention, and ensuring people who are persecuted for their sexual orientation are not deported.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said:

“For my part, we have never shied away from taking the right stance on asylum, even when it has been controversial to do so. Now, in Government, our approach has three key strands: one, sorting out the inefficiency in the system. Two, ending the unfair practices that remain. Three, acting internationally to help as many refugees as we can.

“A country like the UK should be aiming for nothing less than the most compassionate, efficient, dignified asylum system in the world.”

In his closing remarks he added:

“I hope our first year shows that we, like you, want to reaffirm the UK’s place as a caring and compassionate nation. No one should ever be forced from their home. But when it happens they must know that nations like ours will provide the safety and security all people deserve. That’s a promise we made 60 years ago. It is important today as it was then.”

In response, Donna Covey, Chief Executive of the Refugee Council said:

“Sixty years on from the UN Convention for Refugees, it is hugely encouraging the Deputy Prime Minister has spoken out in support of refugees, and publicly recognised the importance of continuing a great British tradition of protecting people fleeing conflicts around the world today.

“The British government has a vital role to play, not just as a conscience of the world leading the way in humanitarian aid and intervention, but in providing safety to people who make it to the UK having fled in fear of their lives. We are heartened by the Deputy Prime Minister’s words and we will continue working with him to make the changes we urgently want to see to create a more humane asylum system in our country.”

The Refugee Council event today marks the 60th birthday of the charity, and the 60th anniversary of the UN Convention for Refugees, which was created in response to the atrocities of World War II to protect people whose lives are at risk in their own countries.

The findings of a recent survey for the Refugee Council carried out by Opinium Research, show that six out of ten (59%) Britons believe that the UN Convention for Refugees is just as relevant or more relevant for protecting people fleeing conflict today as it was in 1951. The survey also found that two out of three (67%) British people are sympathetic to refugees coming to the UK today.