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Covid-19 and the hostile environment

This situation has shown that we are all linked. If one of us is unsafe, we are all less safe. Society is fragile and is only held together by the kindness of people – by community.

 

Refugees and asylum seekers in the UK are part of our communities and the government needs to remove the restrictions – the hostile environment – that stop us coming together to protect each other and ourselves.

Hospitals should not be a hostile environment

 

The restrictions make no sense in our current times; when physical isolation is a necessity for those feeling sick, when the importance of universal healthcare has never been more stark, when we are all in this together.

 

We join with over 60 organisations and groups of people across the UK in writing a letter to the Prime Minister offering simple policy recommendations that would protect migrants and refugees with insecure migration statuses and people who’re experiencing homelessness.  

 

Any attempts to protect public health, do not work unless they apply to everyone living within our communities. 

 

Physical distancing and Isolation:

This is a fundamentally selfless act that everyone should be able to do to play their part in protecting their neighbourhoods and communities. It is simply not possible to do this when sleeping on the streets.

 

The government should block book hotel rooms as an emergency measure to ensure that 

  1. Everyone has the ability to self-isolate if they have symptoms
  2. Nobody recovering from Covid-19 should be discharged from hospital to go and sleep on the streets
  3. No evictions from Home Office asylum support accommodation

 

Access to healthcare

The hostile environment makes it more difficult for those with insecure migration statuses to access the health service. The sharing of patient information between healthcare institutions and the Home Office has been shown to have a disastrous effect on health. Many cases have been recorded of people avoiding going to hospitals even with significant health problems like tuberculosis as they fear being detained or deported. High costs for medical care for migrants accessing the NHS also deter access. Someone with Covid-19 symptoms cannot afford to be avoiding medical professionals.

 

The government should immediately; 

  1. Abolish all charges for access to NHS care
  2. Confirm that no patient info will be shared with the Home Office

 

Financial support for all

People are losing their jobs everyday now. The government has still not released comprehensive plans to support workers through this. Many refugees and migrants have no access to work, and are prevented from accessing any form of help from the government in a status called – no recourse to public funds. Essentially, no ability to legally work and no social support, leaving people to survive on the work of charities and community groups.

 

With charities and organisations suspending their services, the government must remove these restrictions so that people can access support in order to survive. 

  1. Immediately remove ‘no recourse to public funds’ conditions allowing access Universal Credit, Statutory Sick Pay and other assistance.
  2. Emergency cash available to those without bank accounts
  3. All applicants for section 95, section 4 or schedule 10 support should be automatically and appropriately accommodated within the Home Office asylum support system while applications are being processed.
  4. Any agreement for universal income or financial support for workers should be ‘universal’ and available to all – regardless of migration status.

 

Our communities are pulling together in the most beautiful ways. Although things are uncertain and scary right now, the division of the past few years has never felt further away – things have changed forever. The government’s job now should be acting with responsibility and humanity – enabling and allowing our communities to take care of each other and not continuing policies that were always harmful, but could now be even more so. This pandemic is taking no notice of our migration statuses, what official pieces of paper we possess or the wording on the stamps in our passports.

 

We sign this letter and join with charities and organisations across the UK in the hope that the government sees the common sense of these policy recommendations which both protect some of the most vulnerable people in our societies, and our entire communities.

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What is 3D Secure?

3D Secure is an added authentication step for online payments to prevent credit card fraud, by providing an additional security layer for online purchases made with credit and debit cards. 

With the intention of reducing credit card fraud, we require extra verification through 3D secure before.

3D Secure Logo

 

3D Secure verification failed! What do I do?

If the 3D Secure verification isn’t working (possibly due to a connection failure or incorrect password) please try the following steps:

      • Attempt the payment again. Make sure you are entering the correct password or SMS net code. If your bank does not support 3D Secure or you have not yet enrolled, please refer to the information below.
      • Disable your pop-up blocker for a few minutes. 3D Secure opens up in an additional window that is easily blocked by pop-up blockers.
      • If it still doesn’t work get in touch with us.

 

MasterCard SecureCode/NetCode

For 3D Secure transactions as a MasterCard user, you will either have created a SecureCode password or your bank will send you a NetCode via SMS. You have to enter either of these when prompted by the 3D Secure screen.

If you have not yet enrolled for a MasterCard SecureCode/NetCode you can do it now (if it is supported by your financial institution).

 

Verified by Visa

Visa cardholders will have to enter their predetermined security password which they have set up with their financial institution. If you have forgotten this password, you will have to reset your password. Click here to find out more about Verified by Visa.

  

Safekey by American Express

The 3D Secure program by American Express is called SafeKey. SafeKey helps reduce unauthorised online use of your credit card by validating your identity with an additional password or unique value. You can read more about this by clicking here.

If your bank does not yet participate in this 3D Secure program and you are having difficulties with your payment, then please click here to contact us.

 

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Coronavirus knows no borders. Neither does love.

These are difficult and uncertain times for everyone, especially the most vulnerable including refugees and displaced people. 

 

Help Refugees began four and a half years ago in response to a crisis.  Flexibility and adaptability are hardwired into the way we work.  Over the past weeks, together with our amazing partners, we have been adapting the way we work to help limit the spread of Coronavirus and to keep getting vital support to those who really need it.

 

We have been setting up hand sanitizer points in overcrowded refugee camps, prioritising hygiene packs, educating about the importance of hand washing to minimise contagion, and stepping up our support to partners providing medical services.

 

Our wider work must also continue, supporting essential food, shelter, water and sanitation.  Babies still need diapers, families still need a safe place to sleep.  Imagination, invention and love mean that our partners are coming up with ingenious ways to protect the mind as well as the body, with remote psychosocial support, education and children’s entertainment already taking place.  Our partners are working in line with government policy in each country we work in.

 

The advocacy work to protect the  people who are already being denied their most basic rights is more vital than ever.  In the last days we have seen that governments can and will take decisive and even radical action when they feel it is necessary.  We continue to push for governments to step up to protect refugees who cannot self-isolate, now more than ever.

 

We know that times are tough for everyone, and that the future feels uncertain.  What is certain though, is that there is no greater power than love and community and together we can get through anything.

 

We promise that we will continue to put love into action and stand by the communities we work with.  Thank you so much for being with us every step of the way.  Your support makes a massive difference.

 

Thank you always, be safe
Choose love
Josie and the Help Refugees team

Josie Naughton CEO

 

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Help Refugees statement on Turkey abandoning its deal with the EU

Help Refugees warns of potential humanitarian catastrophe and the urgent need to act as Turkey announces it will no longer stop refugees reaching Europe. Ankara has also talked of opening its Syrian border, after 33 Turkish military reportedly killed by Assad/Russian forces.

In the last 24 hours, the Turkish government has suggested it will open its southwestern border with Syria for 72 hours to allow Syrians fleeing the pro-government forces’ assault free passage to Europe, after 33 Turkish military were reportedly killed by Assad/Russian forces. Syrian refugees are already heading to the border point.

Moreover, Turkey is no longer preventing refugees from crossing the borders of neighbouring Greece and Bulgaria, as ‘Turkey can not bear the pressure of the new refugees’. This decision effectively reverses the 2016 deal Turkey struck with the EU to cut the numbers of people entering Europe.

The Turkish coast guard has been stood down; it normally stops an average of 60% of the boats to Greece (where nonetheless over 4600 people have arrived since the start of the year). Turkish media began broadcasting footage of boats leaving this morning; two have arrived already today.

Greek officials said the country is now tightening its sea and land borders with Turkey, including stepping up the coast guard. The land border with Bulgaria at Evros has also opened and there 800 refugees are gathering.

Whether escaping daily bombardment in northern Syria, or the risk of deportation back from dire Turkish refugee camps – it’s hardly surprising that large numbers of people will now attempt this journey into Europe.

The Greek islands, where many of these refugees are headed, are not at breaking point – they are already broken.

Help Refugees Field Manager on Samos, Hannah Green said:

“Camps are painfully overcrowded and lack the most basic facilities. Moria camp on Lesvos has a capacity of 3,200 but holds almost 20,000 people, while the camp on Samos has a capacity of 648 yet is at almost 8,000 people. 60% of these are women and children. The situation is as heartbreaking as it was in 2015.”

Help Refugees partners are working right along the route from Syria: inside Idlib, through Turkey to the Greek islands and mainland Greece. We are in constant communication with them, watching the situation closely and trying to support as best we can.

We are the main funder and umbrella of the grassroots network that is the primary (and often only) response to support refugees in Greece and in particular in the islands, currently supporting 42,269 refugees on the islands alone. Almost 2,000 of this number are unaccompanied minors.

Help Refugees CEO Josie Naughton said:

“We will continue to support, but we are already witnessing a humanitarian disaster. Without urgent action, it will become a catastrophe. Greece cannot be left to deal with the world’s failure to protect refugees alone. European nations must step up to help.”

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We’re hiring! Apply to join Help Refugees as our new Communications Officer

Do you bring together excellent writing and visual design skills, with a flair for creating compelling social content?

Do you have a love of humanity that knows no borders?

Are you a team player with a can-do attitude?

You could be the one we’re looking for.

We are looking for a Communications Officer to join our small and collaborative team in London. Application deadline: 9am Monday 23rd March.

ABOUT HELP REFUGEES

In August 2015, a group of friends started using the hashtag #helpcalais to organise a van full of donations. Within a week, we had raised £56,000 and were soon receiving 7,000 items every day.

We are now one of the largest providers of grassroots humanitarian aid in Europe, and currently support over 120 projects across Europe, the Middle East and US-Mexico border.

Each of these projects is powered by ordinary people who are stepping up where governments are failing to provide even the most basic services. From those keeping rescue boats afloat, to the volunteers distributing tents and hot food, to the brave souls working under the desert sun to place water along the Mexican border.

We also support those working to build a brighter future – the teachers working to ensure refugee kids don’t miss out on an education, the therapists helping heal the invisible scars of war, and the lawyers working to unite families.

Our ‘Choose Love’ brand has been worn by Oprah, Julia Roberts, Phoebe Waller-Bridge and thousands more across the world. Our ‘buy nothing’ pop-up stores in London, New York and LA have raised more than four million and gained headlines in New York Times, The Guardian and CNN. Our founders have addressed audiences including Barack Obama, Sheryl Sandberg and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

ABOUT THE ROLE

 You’ll be responsible for:

Social media

  • Plan and create on-brand compelling content for facebook, Instagram, twitter on a daily basis; includes writing copy, using design tools to create visual content and editing short videos.
  • Ensure that comments and questions on Help Refugees’ social media are responded to swiftly, effectively and in organisational tone of voice.
  • Working with Help Refugees colleagues in Greece and France to source content about our work on the ground.
  • Support the Communications Manager on planning and delivery of exciting content around key moments such as the Choose Love stores and more.

Website

  • Creating compelling content for Help Refugees’ website, coordinating content from others, and creating joined-up user journeys across social and website.
  • Keeping website up to date.
  • Supporting development and delivery of Help Refugees’ new website.

Supporting fundraising

  • Support facebook birthday fundraisers
  • Support individual and community fundraisers on our website
  • Support online fundraising, including supporter emails and social media fundraising appeals.

Other responsibilities as necessary

  • Communications support to Help Refugees’ key moments such as the Choose Love stores, festivals and events.
  • Communications support to advocacy and campaigns.
  • Support on internal collating and storing photography, video and stories.
  • Support media on Help Refugees’ work and the refugee crisis.
  • Other ad hoc duties as required.

Essential requirements

  • Confident communicator with excellent writing skills
  • Excellent designer using tools such as in-design or photoshop; ability to create beautiful and impactful visual content
  •  Basic video editing skills
  • Experience of creating professional digital content to support engagement

Desirable

Ideally you will bring at least one of these to our work:

  • Lived experience of displacement or migration.
  • Experience working in the field of humanitarian aid, refugees or migration
  • A love of social media, particularly instagram.
  • Experience with mobile technology, online giving platforms and website design
  • Track record of using social media platforms to raise awareness, organise and/ or fundraise

ABOUT YOU

You choose love 

You are motivated by a love of humanity that knows no borders.

You are a doer 

You spot opportunities for impact and make things happen. You are comfortable working on scrappy passion projects and longer-term strategic campaigns. A good day is when you’ve done something to change the world.

You are a creative communicator 

You know the world is changed by stories and you want to be at the heart of telling them. You can communicate complex ideas with clarity, powerful stories with passion and understand how to move people.

You are curious 

You know good ideas can come from anywhere and are constantly looking at the world around you for inspiration.

You are a team player

You work best when part of a small, collaborative team. You are happy to muck in when needed and the words ‘not my job’ have never crossed your lips.

You are entrepreneurial

You think beyond the limits of your current role. You take risks, celebrate failure and never stop generating ideas.

THE DEAL 

The role will be managed by the Director of Communications and Campaigns.

It is based out of the Help Refugees office in Somerset House, London, and may involve some infrequent travel.

 The role will be offered as a permanent role with a six-month probation period, starting as soon as possible.

Salary will be in-line with other NGOs.

Help Refugees does not discriminate in employment matters on the basis of race, colour, religion, gender, age, sexuality or any other protected class. We support workplace diversity and believe it creates dynamic, relevant organisations, fostering spaces for innovation and creativity. We are working hard to increase the diversity of our team and encourage you to be a part of it.

We are committed to making our roles and culture inclusive. We can make reasonable adjustments throughout the application process and on the job. If you have particular accessibility needs, please get in touch and let us know any requirements you may have.

HOW TO APPLY 

Please apply with a cover letter (of no more than two pages) outlining your suitability for the role and a copy for your CV to jobs@helprefugees.org.

CVs without cover letters will not be considered.

Application deadline: 9am Monday 23 March.

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We’re hiring! Apply to join Help Refugees as our new Office Manager

Help Refugees Office Manager

Application deadline 9am, Monday 9th March. 

About you

You’re someone who loves multitasking and really makes things happen. You have strong IT skills and you’re a natural organiser who can build systems for managing a wide range of ongoing and ad hoc tasks. You’re comfortable adapting plans and working in a fast-paced environment where things can often change. When you’re faced with tasks and challenges you use your initiative and can-do attitude to work out the way forward, but you also know when to check in with the team.

About the role

You’ll keep both the Help Refugees office and team ship shape, helping ensure colleagues are supported and have the resources they need. You’ll also act as a friendly and effective first point-of-contact for enquiries by email, phone and social media.

Your roles and responsibilities

Day-to-day office management: 

  • Troubleshooting IT issues
  • Acting as point of contact with all office facilities – security, repairs, IT, FOH, cleaners, rubbish disposal
  • Ad Hoc expenses for the Senior management team – COO, Head of Programmes and Head of Partnerships
  • Maintaining an office operational budget to track spending and manage expenditure
  • Maintaining the office environment by ensuring stationery, tea and coffee levels are topped up and plants are watered
  • Creating and implementing office management systems and leading on keeping the office tidy 
  • Managing stock of Choose Love merchandise, collecting additional stock from storage when needed and occasionally ordering new stock 
  • Managing stock of tablets and payment devices and ensuring everything is charged
  • Managing stock of buckets, chargers and simple event signage so it’s easy to send out for events
  • Organising and overseeing couriers and shipping locally, nationally and internationally
  • Hand-delivering items to VIPs 
  • Booking meeting rooms 
  • Taking minutes for team meetings
  • Paying cash and cheques in to the bank 

Acting as a first point-of-contact for enquiries: 

  • First point of contact with the general public representing the organisation’s voice and tone on emails and messages 
  • Replying to emails sent via website, prioritising anything urgent, sharing emails with relevant team members in a timely manner as required
  • Replying to messages and comments on social media in a friendly timely manner
  • Completing a range of other ad hoc tasks, depending on the needs and priorities of the organisation

Salary: 23-26k, depending on experience. Based in the Help Refugees London office, Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 1LA. Two-year contract, full time role, with six-month probation period. Applications to be submitted by 9am, Monday 9th March. 

If you’re interested in this role, please contact jobs@helprefugees.org with your CV and cover letter. Application deadline: 9am, Monday 9th March. 


Help Refugees does not discriminate in employment matters on the basis of race, colour, religion, gender, age, sexuality or any other protected class. We support workplace diversity and believe it creates dynamic, relevant organisations, fostering spaces for innovation and creativity. We are working hard to increase the diversity of our team and encourage you to be a part of it.

We are committed to making our roles and culture inclusive. We can make reasonable adjustments throughout the application process and on the job. If you have particular accessibility needs, please get in touch and let us know any requirements you may have.

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‘Climate Refugees’, Capitalism and the Australian Bushfires

Harry Sanders is a content writer for the Immigration Advice Service, an organisation of immigration lawyers providing free advice and support to asylum seekers and victims of abuse.

 

As the new decade dawned roughly one month ago, humanity collectively breathed a sigh of relief, hoping at least for some small respite from the global mania of the 2010s. Within a few days, such hopes were quickly shattered by an onslaught of disasters – amongst which are the Australian bushfires which are still raging at the time of writing. The environmental impact of such widespread destruction is unquestionable (it is believed that around one billion animals have died in the fires), but in contrast with the flurry of wildlife appeals, the matter of human displacement has flown – relatively speaking – under the radar.

 

The bushfires presently wreaking havoc across Australia follow the country’s hottest year on record in 2019, with average temperatures 1.52C above the 1961-1990 average. Forgetting the views of the most hard-line of sceptics, this huge rise in temperature is the result of climate change caused by humans and our greenhouse gas emissions. Since the fires began, over 2,000 homes have been destroyed in the south of the country, and their former inhabitants have been made the first ‘climate refugees’ of the 2020s. 

Regrettably, though, Australia is not the first to experience climate-induced displacement. Since 2008, an average of 25.3 million people have been forcibly displaced due to environmental disasters every year. It is crucial to reinforce that these affected people are not simply joining family or taking up employment abroad; they have been forced to leave their homes by a change in circumstances that are in no way their choice or their fault. Thankfully, the UN has recently made it unlawful for climate refugees to be returned to their home country if this would leave them at risk from a climate disaster.

The communities hit hardest by these disasters are, unjustly yet unsurprisingly, the poorest and most rural. A recent IPCC report found that indigenous and disadvantaged populations are at a disproportionately higher risk from global warming of 1.5C and over. Agricultural and coastal populations – which are fundamentally dependent on a stable environment for their way of life – are destined to struggle with the rising unpredictability of our global climate. In fact, it is expected that by 2050 a gargantuan 143 million people from sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and Latin America will be displaced. 

The present is morbid; the future, even more so. We have known this for so long that it is included in the national curriculum. However, it is still unclear what is actually being done to prevent this future of hellfire and brimstone from materialising. 

In reality, very little is being done for one plain and simple reason: to act on climate change is not in the best interests of anyone who benefits from our global capitalist and consumerist economy.

The biggest culprit is undeniably the fossil fuel industry, with its regard for the future wellbeing of the planet and its colourful tapestry of peoples and cultures always coming second to profit. A now infamous statistic often floated in discussions on climate change is that just 100 companies are responsible for more than 70% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions since 1988. For example, Shell – a household name – is just one of these companies, and alone is responsible for 1.7% of global emissions for the last 30 years.

Companies dealing in fossil fuels such as Shell quite literally get away with murder, thanks to the greed and carelessness of the politicians which protect them. Australia has one of the worst records in this department due to its status as the world’s fourth largest coal producer, and largest exporter of both coal and liquefied natural gas

As a result, Australia’s fossil fuel interests are protected by politicians and lobbyists who stand to profit from continued coal and gas production. Prime Minister Scott Morrison is one of many politicians who deny Australia’s involvement in global emissions in order to maintain profit margins. In the wake of the recent bushfires, Mr Morrison claimed that Australia is doing enough to limit its emissions

Mr Morrison’s apparent heartlessness in the face of immense death and destruction sweeping his country should not be surprising, as he was also one of the architects of Australia’s troubled and brutal immigration policies. Since 2013, refugees arriving to Australia by boat have been intercepted and sent to detention centres on Nauru and Papua New Guinea where they wait to be processed amidst myriad human rights abuses. Ironically, both Nauru and Papua New Guinea are islands ‘at risk’ from potential environmental disaster.

 

In this new decade, the governments of not only Australia but of all nations face a choice of monumental importance. Will politicians continue to pander to the profit-driven robots of the fossil fuel industry, and in doing so ensure the continued escalation of the global climate disaster and the eventual displacement and death of millions globally? Or perhaps, for once, will thought be given to reason and humanity over zeroes in bank accounts?

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Win tickets to the Love Letters Live show on Valentine’s Day!

We’re so excited to have got our hands on a pair of exclusive tickets for the sold-out Love Letters Live show on Valentine’s Day at Shoreditch Town Hall – and we’re offering them to two lucky Choose Love supporters.

Previous Letters Live events have unearthed letters sent by the likes of David Bowie, Maya Angelou and Che Guevara and placed them in the hands of such luminaries as Benedict Cumberbatch, Olivia Colman, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

We’re sure this event will be just as dazzling.  And we’re thrilled that this special Valentine’s Day event, themed around love letters, will support our amazing projects with refugees. That really is love in action.

To be in with a chance of winning, simply follow both Choose Love and Letters Live on Instagram and tag someone you love in the comments below this post, who you’d like to take with you to the event (make sure they can be in London on Feb 14th!). The winner will be chosen at random on Tuesday 4th February.


Competition Terms and Conditions

1. All entries must be made directly by the person entering the competition, this can be done by liking and commenting on the specified Instagram post and following Choose Love (@chooselove) and Letters Live (@letterslive) on Instagram. Alternatively if the entrant is not on Instagram, we will accept entries via email. Please email contact@helprefugees.org with ‘Letters Live competition’ in the subject line and your full name in the body of the email.

2. Entries made online using methods generated by a script, macro or the use of automated devices will be void.

3. No responsibility can be accepted for entries lost, delayed or corrupted, or due to computer error in transit.

4. No responsibility can be accepted for prizes lost, delayed or corrupted in transit to the winner.

5. The competition will close at 9am Tuesday 4th February. To be eligible, entries must be received on or before the competition closing date.

6. The prizewinner will be decided by Help Refugees. The prizewinner will need to respond within one week of being contacted by email; or the prize will be forfeit and will be awarded to a different entrant selected at random.

7. The right is reserved to terminate or withdraw this contest at any time.

8. All prizes are not transferable, non-refundable, no whole/part cash alternatives.

9. The Promoter will make available the name and county of the winners to anyone who requests this information by writing an email to contact@helprefugees.org.

10. The prizes are as stated in the competition text, are not transferable to another individual and no cash or other alternatives will be offered.

11. Prizes are subject to availability and the prize suppliers’ terms and conditions.

12. The promoters reserve the right to amend or alter the terms of competitions and reject entries from entrants not entering into the spirit of the competition.

13. In the event of a prize being unavailable, the promoter reserves the right to offer an alternative prize of equal or greater value.

14. The winner(s) agree(s) to the use of their name being used online in post-winning publicity.

16. Where applicable, the decision of the judges is final based on the criteria set out in the promotion and no correspondence will be entered into over this decision.

16. Competitions may be modified or withdrawn at any time.

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In Calais we see what happens when refugee children are left out in the cold

In the industrial zone on the edge of Calais, tents are scattered across landfill sites or are perched on slag heaps. Inside sleep unaccompanied refugee children.

It’s still dark and the children are asleep when they are forcibly woken up.

Dressed in riot gear, police shake the children’s tents and shout in French. Frightening enough for adults, it’s terrifying for children. But some of them have become hardened to it and this, too, is unbearably sad.

Sleeping bags are removed, sleep is disrupted and another day of survival in the open begins.

For the 200 or so unaccompanied refugee children currently sleeping rough in northern France, life is impossibly hard. Almost every day begins with an eviction before 9am, an arbitrary and cruel operation carried out by the French authorities to continually displace young people who are already living in desperate conditions.

These are kids who have fled war and insecurity in places such as Afghanistan, Iraqi Kurdistan, Sudan and Eritrea, and who have become separated from their families. Many are orphans, others have found themselves the only member of their family able to escape from terrible situations.

I’ve even seen some as young as eight years old. What unites them all is the wary look in their eyes and the layers of clothes they wear against the cold.

The days drag on as young people sit around fires trying to keep warm. No education, no shelter, no state legal support – none of these fundamental human rights appear to exist for them.  Seeing their situation and the apathy our leaders show to it leaves me in a state of despair and mourning the childhood they are missing.

As Field Manager for Help Refugees in northern France, my job is to coordinate volunteers who work around the clock to meet the most basic needs.  We’ve been providing support here for years; blankets, firewood and hot food for starters. I help safeguard the kids, flagging particularly vulnerable cases to lawyers and others who can help.

The deepest injustice is that while they are living this nightmare on the streets in France, those with family in the UK could be safely at home with them.

Currently, if an unaccompanied refugee child in Europe has any family in the UK, they have a right to be reunited with them. Over the years that I’ve been working here, some children I’ve known have been able to take advantage of this and are now living safely in the UK.

But bureaucracy and foot-dragging on the part of the British government have left many children still stranded, and now the government is trying to scrap the legislation that could give those still here a lifeline to security.

Last week, the House of Commons voted against an amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill (the ‘Brexit Bill’) that would have preserved family reunification after Brexit – one of the last legal routes that exists for unaccompanied children to find safety.

The House of Lords just overturned that vote, sending the Bill back to the Commons with a clear signal that this is morally unjustifiable.

We only have a few hours to tell our MPs that this country wants the right to family reunification for lone refugee children enshrined in law once and for all. Please, take action now.


Maddy Allen is Help Refugees Field Manager for northern France. 

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On Samos, we see what happens when refugee children are left out in the cold

When I was a little kid, I lost my mum in the supermarket. I still remember the terror of those minutes vividly. But on the Greek islands, children as young as eight live totally alone in freezing tents, for months at a time.⁣

Yesterday I was told about a ten-year-old unaccompanied child living on Samos. When he was asked what he needed, rather than a sleeping bag, a jacket or food, he asked for a football. He really did need a sleeping bag, a jacket and food, but he didn’t know that. Children aren’t meant to know what they need in order to survive winter. On Samos these kids are forced to understand things, see things, and experience things that no one should – let alone a child.⁣

On Samos, around 400 of these children live alone in the camp and overflow area which surrounds the official compound. They’re left to fend for themselves. They’re constantly cold and dirty and have to queue for hours for food. They don’t go to school, and when night falls they’re exposed to horrifying dangers. Depression, self harm and suicidal tendencies are commonplace among these kids.⁣

Across Europe, there are thousands of unaccompanied refugee children who have family in the UK. But rather than allowing these children to escape tortuous conditions and reunite with family members, the UK government is trying close family reunion for lone refugee children after Brexit.⁣

It is easy to see politics as something big, abstract and irrelevant, but here on Samos we can see the devastating impact of hostile refugee policies on a daily basis. ⁣

Some of the children here are so traumatised they scream out in their sleep. We cannot turn our backs on these most vulnerable children. We should all be screaming out.”⁣

 



Hannah is a Field Manager for Help Refugees on the Greek island of Samos.

TAKE ACTION: if you’re based in the UK, please take a few minutes to contact your MP.

 

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