Dame Emma Thompson is joined by Meryl Streep, Sylvester Stallone, David Harewood, Daniel Radcliffe, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Luke Evans, Benjamin Zephaniah and David Morrissey – in a short film which calls out the UK Government’s approach to refugees.
This film from the Refugee Council, scripted by writer, actor and comedian David Schneider, calls on the Government to rethink proposed laws which will criminalise refugees, like those from Ukraine, who have made their own way to the UK in a desperate search for safety.
It puts the viewer in the position of a refugee – a mother, a grandmother, or a child – who has been forced from their home because of war devastating their country. It goes on to illustrate how, whatever the experience they are fleeing, these refugees could be deemed criminals under the new Nationality and Borders Bill if they have made their own way to the UK, even when no other route is available.
The Nationality and Borders Bill, currently reaching the final stages in Parliament, will undermine the UK’s obligation to give all who seek asylum a fair hearing, by discriminating against refugees depending on how they reach British shores. Those forced to take dangerous journeys to the UK will be treated as criminals.
British Actor Dame Emma Thompson said:
“This Bill flies in the face of basic humanity. Every day, we are hearing the devastating stories of Ukrainian women, and children who have left their homes in pieces, their loved ones behind, they are exhausted, scared and in desperate need of safety. These are the experiences of refugees fleeing war and bloodshed in countries all around the world.
“The idea that the Government, through this Bill would seek to punish and criminalise those families, who in their struggle to find safety have travelled to the UK through the wrong route, is immoral even in the writing. We have a rich history in this country of welcoming those who need sanctuary, just as we would ask of others if we would find ourselves in need. We urge the Government to immediately rethink this cruel Bill.”
With this film, produced by David Schneider’s creative agency That Lot, the Refugee Council, are asking the British public to email their MP to put immediate pressure on the Government to remove some of the most harmful elements of the Bill in order to protect refugees who have lost everything.
Enver Solomon, CEO of the Refugee Council, said:
“We are seeing unprecedented levels of support for the plight of people in Ukraine. This war is happening at our doorstep and the country is united and ready to play its part in supporting refugees. The Ukrainian people are not alone. All around the world, conflicts and persecution are forcing families from their homes and loved ones, in desperate search of safety and protection.
“Ever since the UK signed the 1951 Refugee Convention over seven decades ago, we have given men, women and children fleeing oppression and war across the world a fair hearing on UK soil regardless of how they got here. Yet the Borders Bill undermines that obligation. A mother fleeing with her children, who in desperation for protection takes a dangerous and unregulated journey to the UK, will be met, not with open arms, but by being treated as a criminal with the possibility of a prison sentence. It is brutal and cruel.
We call on this Government to do the right thing by refugees in Ukraine and all around the world by immediately removing these most harmful elements of the Bill. Now more than ever we must strengthen, not weaken our commitment to granting protection to any man, woman or child who has fled war and oppression regardless of how they arrived.”