As Ukrainians flee for their lives from war, aggression and hostility beyond their control, René Cassin is astounded by the government’s decision to bar all but those with British relatives from seeking asylum on our shores. Whilst we welcome the Home Office’s decision to relax visa rules for a wider range of relatives and some sponsored individuals these conditions remain unjust, unlawful, and inadequate.
The Jewish people have a long history of flight and resettlement. It is in the legacy of our tragic persecution in the Holocaust that the Refugee Convention and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights were drafted. If family reunion were a prerequisite for our safety in the 1930s, far fewer of us would have been granted refuge in the United Kingdom.
Still, these limits mark a dark departure from those international human rights protections, and a wilful ignorance of what it means to flee for your life in search of basic safety. It also illuminates the broader consolidation of a hostile environment to migration through the Nationality and Borders Bill, which criminalises people for the route they take to reach our shores and undermines fair hearings for asylum seekers. This legislation belies not just international law, but basic human dignity.
For this reason, we are urging the government not only to reconsider its decision obstructing the safety of Ukrainian refugees, but also the Nationality and Borders Bill itself. We are particularly pushing the Commons for the complete removal of clause 11 – voted down earlier this week in the Lords – which will punish Ukrainian refugees and others forced to take irregular journeys to find safety.
It is easy to feel helpless in the face of such horror. We will continue to press the UK government for a more adequate response to this humanitarian crisis. If you would like to make a contribution to help those fleeing their homes or unable to escape violence, I would recommend a donation to World Jewish Relief’s Ukraine Crisis Appeal.
With very best wishes in these troubling times