Labour’s Taskforce on Refugees was established in response to the biggest humanitarian crisis we’ve seen since the Second World War.
As millions of people have been displaced from their homes in Syria, Libya, Afghanistan and Iraq, we have seen increasingly desperate images of families struggling to survive in camps and risking their lives making the treacherous journey to Europe.
According to the UNHR, 500,000 people have tried to cross the Mediterranean in the last eight months. That’s the equivalent of the entire population of Leeds getting on rickety boats and risking their lives on the waves. Almost 3,000 people have died – drowned or suffocated on the voyage.
Many are travelling through Turkey, Greece and the Balkans into Hungary heading to Austria, Germany and Sweden. Some – though far, far fewer – have made it to Calais and are trying to reach Britain.
Save the Children estimate at least 20,000 unaccompanied children have arrived in Europe – mainly in Italy and Greece.
Over 100,000 people have arrived in Italy since the start of the year. The Hungarian Government claim 10,000 refugees are arriving each month. And at least 4,000 are arriving on the small Greek island of Lesvos each day.
These people have nowhere to go and authorities across Europe are struggling to cope.
The UK’s response
Under immense pressure from the British public, the Government have said they will accept 4,000 refugees each year – taken from camps on the border of Syria. It’s a start – but it’s not enough. And it doesn’t help the thousands of people who have already arrived in Europe and have little or no support.
About the Refugee Taskforce
The Refugee Taskforce will work with community groups, NGOs, local councils, employers and trade unions to develop and campaign for a better response from the British Government – and Governments across Europe – to the refugee crisis. It will draw on expertise from across the Labour movement – members, trade union officials, councillors, MPs and MEPs – to put forward plans for a sustainable humanitarian response.
The Refugee Taskforce will focus on five main areas:
1) Maintain and build support across Britain for helping refugees
2) Holding the Government to account on its pledge to take in 4,000 refugees a year – and pushing them to go much further, including taking refugees that have already arrived in Europe
3) Bringing together authorities, campaign groups and NGOs to help coordinate support for refugees
4) Working with our MEPs and sister parties in Europe to promote Europe wide action to help refugees and tackle the crisis
5) Campaigning for additional funding and better partnership working to improve conditions for those displaced in conflict zones, especially in Syria
The first meeting of the Refugee Taskforce led to the development of a single online platform to bring together information and guidance for the hundreds of thousands of people in Britain who wanted to offer their support to refugees. You can find this here: http://www.refugees-welcome.org.uk/