COVENTRY should play its part in the UK taking in more refugees urgently as the international crisis unfolds, a leading councillor has said today.
Labour cabinet member, councillor Ed Ruane, called on the Conservative government to act urgently amid daily images of suffering at European hotspots among thousands fleeing unstable and war-torn countries.
Coun Ruane, cabinet member for children and young people, called for a more humane approach.
He said: “I’m proud that under the Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme for Syrian nationals, launched in the UK last year, that of the 187 people who have been resettled, about 50 have come to Coventry.
“We should do much more as a country. The small number taken by the UK is utterly shameful.
“There is still a large amount of local authorities refusing to participate in this scheme and they should be named.
“We must extend the hand of friendship. This is not some diplomatic chess match. We are talking about human suffering on a massive scale. So far it looks like we’ve learnt no lessons from history.
“There is no question that those Syrians who have come to the UK under the relocation scheme have been through significant trauma”.
Although it is co-ordinated by Coventry City Council, the scheme is delivered by the voluntary sector.
Coun Ruane added: “We are not helped by the poorly informed public debate which, perhaps intentionally conflates three quite different movements of people; free movement within the EU, irregular or unauthorised migration and the plight of the Middle Eastern refugees.
“While our misguided foreign policy and unwillingness to tackle change may give us a moral responsibility for those fleeing famine and conflict, our responsibility towards refugees from war zones is clear under international law.
“Due to our commitments to the UN Refugee Convention, the vast majority of Syrian refugees who reach our territory are given asylum but the UK has taken fewer Syrian refugees than many other European countries.
“While Germany admitted around 41,000 asylum seekers in 2014 alone, the UK has taken in fewer than 7000.”