Our CEO, Enver Solomon, explains why we decided to co-author a new report setting out the case for a new national refugee strategy.
There’s always a danger as a charity that you preach to the converted; we know that and it’s really tempting to do so and also very affirming. But it doesn’t really help us achieve the change we want to see. In any democracy, it is absolutely vital within any debate that there are diverse voices advocating for a particular change.
We were extremely disappointed with the passage of the Nationality and Borders Act onto the statute book. Yet, we were also struck by the number of occasions that government backbench Members of Parliament told us that there was no alternative to this approach.
We know that there is an alternative, and together with our partners we have spent many years advocating for a progressive and humane asylum policy for the UK. But we know it’s not enough just for us to be doing this, and we need new and diverse voices making the case for change. We also have to look at some of the challenges in more detail and begin to advance practical and tangible solutions that will help people who are seeking to reach a place of safety.
That is why I worked with co-authors on this new report: Baroness Philippa Stroud, the Chief Executive of the Legatum Institute and a member of the House of Lords; Prof. Alexander Betts, the Director of the Refugee Studies Centre at the University of Oxford and Professor of Forced Migration and International Affairs, and Will Somerville, the UK Director of Unbound Philanthropy.
We all come from different backgrounds, with different perspectives and different views on these important issues.
As we worked together on drafting this report, there were many disagreements and many different drafts along the way. The result is not perfect for any of us, but it represents a pragmatic point where all of us could agree on the final words.
And we are not saying that this is the definitive statement on what a future national refugee strategy should look like. Rather more we’re hoping that this kickstarts a proper conversation, about how we should be offering compassionate and humane protection for people who are fleeing persecution.
There are three pillars to our approach. First, we need to strengthen collaboration to stop smuggling. Second, we must secure agreement from our European partners for creating mechanisms to review cases in Europe with appropriate safeguards in place so that asylum claims are looked at before people arrive here. Finally, we should create safe routes from both outside and within Europe.
And in our report, we make the case for real action in a number of areas such as tackling the huge number of people waiting in the current asylum backlog; the right to work for people seeking asylum after six months; improving global engagement; and all of the proposed actions being grounded in a new national refugee integration strategy.
I really do encourage you to have a look at the report. If there are parts of it that you don’t agree with, let us know. But don’t just let us know what you don’t like; a key part of us doing this is to actively welcome and embrace new and constructive solutions that will help people who are seeking safety in the UK. So do read the report and let us know what you think.