Call for UK to take in more refugees
A FORMER Kindertransport refugee has criticised the UK’s policy of taking 20,000 Syrian asylum-seekers over the next five years.
Sir Erich Reich said: “To let in just 4,000 a year like David Cameron has said is absurd. We need to let in more.”
He was speaking at a public meeting organised by the Board of Deputies this week to discuss the community’s response to the refugee crisis.
Sir Erich told the 250-strong audience at the JW3 community centre, in north-West London: “What is so disturbing about the refugee crisis is the idea we can’t resolve the problem.
“But for those who are terrorised and fleeing come what may, we can take them in.”
Also attending the meeting was Razan Alakraa whose family fled Syria, as well as representatives from charities, including JCORE, Rene Cassin, Tzelem and Mitzvah Day.
Refugee Council policy manager Judith Dennis urged people to write to their MPs asking the government to do more to provide safe and legal routes into Europe. She said: “People are going to make the journey — the problem is it’s not safe.”
Nic Shlagman, community projects co-ordinator for West London Synagogue, which runs a drop-in centre for refugees, said: “We need to give our time and money and talk to individuals about their experiences… Use the skills you have and offer them to those who need it.”
World Jewish Relief’s emergency appeal, launched last month has raised over £471,844 for refugees in Syria.
Alisa Avigdor, the charity’s director of philanthropy, thanked the Jewish community for its “extraordinary generosity”. She said: “We have already been providing thousands of back-toschool kits for Syrian refugee children in Turkey and as hard winter approaches we will provide thousands of winter kits which include coats, boots, warm socks, clothes and a sleeping bag.”
Meanwhile Edie Friedman, director of JCORE, has expressed concern over Home Secretary Theresa May’s tough line on immigration in her speech to the Conservative Party conference.
Ms Friedman said: “It is imperative that we remain committed to upholding our international obligations regarding refugees and asylum seekers. Getting ‘tough’ on those fleeing conflict and persecution is a step in the wrong direction.”
She added: “As Britain prepares to take up to 20,000 Syrian refugees over the next four years, making people more anxious about this issue is not compatible with asking people to be welcoming to new refugees.”