Local governments in the United Kingdom are putting pressure on Prime Minister Theresa May to increase the number of refugees allowed into the country. The quota is currently set at 20,000 refugees.
According to Freedom of Information (FOI) requests acquired by The Guardian, local authorities have pledged to provide homes for 21,650 refugees, and have issued statements saying they will make more available as needed. As of now, just over 6,000 Syrian refugees have been resettled in the United Kingdom.
These local efforts come as the government increases restrictions on refugees, which require refugees to undergo additional review after being in the country for five years and subjects them to possible deportation, if they fail to pass muster. The government also recently reversed legislation, allowing 3,000 unaccompanied child refugees, stranded in camps in Greece, Croatia, and other countries on the southern European coast (also called the Dubs Amendment), to enter the country. The United Kingdom had only accepted 350 unaccompanied minors under the law, before parliament repealed it last week. Dozens of grassroots and community organizations in the UK have signed an open letter denouncing the repeal of the Dubs Amendment.
It is becoming increasingly apparent that the United Kingdom, along with other EU countries, is complicit in allowing refugees to languish in dangerous conditions in camps throughout the Mediterranean. A recent investigation from the UK Independent Commission for Aid Impact revealed that refugees are being detained indefinitely in UK-funded camps in Libya. Even for those who make it to the United Kingdom and enter the resettlement process, they must subsist on meager allowances, and are not allowed to work while their asylum applications are pending.
As the local initiatives show, a significant portion of British citizens are at odds with their government’s response to refugees. As the crisis continues grow, this grassroots movement, like others in Europe may be the best bet in reversing regressive national policies toward asylum seekers.