A unique petition – using faces rather than signatures – gained support from staff, supporters, volunteers and clients at The Refugee Council’s headquarters in Brixton today, Tuesday 25th April.
Staff supported the Million Faces petition, organised as part of the Control Arms Campaign to persuade the UN to impose controls on the small arms trade.
Tim Finch, Director of Communications at the Refugee Council, says:
“One of the major reasons that people flee to the UK to seek a place of safety is because of conflict and violence in their homelands. Civil wars, insurgencies the breakdown of law and order, state repression, armed militias and death squads – all are fuelled by the vicious and uncontrolled trade in small arms. And it is these things, not economic factors, which drive people out of their countries and lead them to claim asylum in places like Britain.
“It is clearly morally right to have tighter controls on weapons which cause such suffering and misery. But it is also one of the best ways of tackling the root causes of the refugee problem. A world in which fewer people could get their hands on small arms, would also be a world where there were fewer refugees. That is why the Refugee Council strongly supports the Control Arms campaign.”
The Refugee Council is also contacting its thousands of supporters around the country to ask them to back the campaign.
The Control Arms Campaign is being run by Oxfam, Amnesty International and IANSA (International Action Network on Small Arms) to lobby the UK government to champion an Arms Trade treaty. It aims to deliver its Million Faces petition to the UN in June, prior to a vital conference on the arms trade. To date over 950,000 photographs and drawings have been collected
Claire Seaward, Campaigns Officer from Oxfam says:
“2006 is a critical year in the quest to halt the flood of guns. In June, the United Nations will meet in New York for the first major conference on small arms for five years. As part of these discussions, it is imperative that countries agree on an international Arms Trade Treaty that will outlaw sales of small arms that could be used in violent crime.
“Today, whilst there are international treaties covering the sale of everything from dinosaur bones to stamps, there is no treaty governing weapons meaning that up to 1000 people die every day from armed violence.”
For more information on the campaign see www.controlarms.org