It’s impossible not to be moved by the continuing plight of innocent people caught up in the horror of the Syrian war and the politics being played with peoples’ lives at Europe’s borders.
The UK can and must do more to help – and letting our MPs know that we want the UK to do more is a simple way in which we can all put pressure on the government to step up.
It’s really easy to communicate with your MP via their official email address, and we asked Elizabeth Long, RA-C Director, to put together a model email/letter to make this valuable task easier still.
To email your MP simply copy the text below, paste it into an email and fill in your MPs name and your details where prompted and send it to your MP’s email address…
Will Quince (Colchester) can be emailed at email@example.com
Bernard Jenkin (Harwich & North Essex) can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you’re MP is in another constituency/location you’ll be able to find their email address here
Dear [insert name of MP]
We are deeply concerned about the deteriorating situation for refugees and asylum seekers arriving in Europe. We write to ask you, as our representative, to encourage our government to take steps to ease the ongoing human suffering. We hope and expect that the UK – rightly proud of its tolerance, respect of human dignity and rule of law – will demonstrate compassion; if we fail to act in the current circumstances we are betraying these fundamental values.
For five years Europe has failed to support the countries on its southern flank by meeting its burden-sharing commitments to relocate thousands of displaced people from Greece. The migrant ‘crisis’ has reached the tipping point predicted for years by those on the ground. On the Greek islands 42,000 people seeking refuge are detained in limbo in dire conditions in facilities designed for only 6,000. Local villagers, frustrated with the disruption to their lives and their own government’s neglect, have clashed violently with asylum seekers and police. Aid workers have been targeted and are pulling out for their own safety.
In recent months a brutal military campaign in Idlib, Syria, has killed or injured hundreds of civilians and pushed nearly a million people to flee their homes. Faced with more refugees adding to the 3.7 million it already shelters, Turkey has opened its northern border to allow refugees to pass into Greece, in contravention of an agreement that it would contain and support them in exchange for EU funds. Greece’s knee-jerk response in increasing its police presence in border towns has been praised by the EU, which pledged more resources to strengthen border security.
Where is our humanity? At the news of desperate people trying to make their way to safety, why is the first reaction defensive? Why do we prioritise fortifying borders over extending a hand of support and welcome? People have migrated for as long as we have walked. Yet now, our wealthy continent is slamming its doors. Xenophobia is becoming normalised: media and some politicians are manipulating reality and dehumanising refugees, portraying them as illegal or faceless invaders who pose a security threat. And every single day, while we argue about responsibility, the misery and despair increases. The humanitarian cost is already unacceptable.
We, your constituents, refuse to condone this hostility. It does not reflect our compassion for people who have lost everything. We reject the use of migrants as a bargaining chip in negotiations. We recognise that every one of us would, like them, try to protect our families by moving to a place of safety — a place where we could provide our children with hope for the future. For the past five years we have joined people across our country in helping refugees: providing donations and volunteers to Calais and Greece; setting up local organisations to help integration; undertaking community sponsorship; befriending, housing and supporting. We do not fear ‘the other’: we know that which unites us is far more significant than that which divides us. We recognise that immigration to our country brings substantial and positive benefits and, more importantly, that welcoming newcomers into our communities reminds us of the value of benevolence, empathy and sharing.
We ask you as MPs to coordinate a response with our neighbours to seek an end to the fighting in Syria. We ask you to ensure that legal channels for claiming asylum in Europe remain open in accordance with international human rights law. We ask you to respond to the plea for help from the Greek government to provide a new life for some of the thousands of unaccompanied child refugees currently on the islands. We ask you to be instrumental in building the bridges that we too may need to cross one day.
We thank you for your consideration of our concerns, and we look forward to your response and positive action.[Insert your name and address incl postcode]