Thank you to everyone who signed the e-petition on the Cambridge City Council website, asking that Cambridge accepts a further 125 refugees as part of its resettlement program.
However, we need to keep up the pressure: On 22 October Cambridge city councillors will meet to consider the proposal, and we need you to tell them how you feel about the city welcoming more refugees.
You can find out who your local councillor is, along with their email and postal address, at https://democracy.cambridge.gov.uk/mgFindMember.aspx
Below is a template letter for you to adapt, but we suggest you make sure to include your personal feelings on why the city needs to accept more refugees.
You can find the e-petition at https://democracy.cambridge.gov.uk/mgEPetitionDisplay.aspx?id=61
Dear Cllr X,
I’m writing to you to ask for your support for an e-petition on the City Council’s website calling for Cambridge to pledge to take in at least 125 more displaced people relocated from the Aegean Islands or through the UK Resettlement Scheme (see below).
This petition has received more online signatures than any other on the Council’s petition system. Please bear in mind that there would usually also be paper signatures submitted in addition to those on the e-petition system, however it’s not been possible to collect large numbers of paper signatures in this way for obvious reasons.
Cambridge has a long history of support for refugees fleeing conflict, torture and persecution in their home countries, including victims of the Spanish Civil War and the Nazis in the 1930s and the Pinochet regime in Chile in the 1970s. These people were welcomed to Cambridge and soon became valued members of our community. Over the last five years, the city has successfully supported and integrated over a hundred vulnerable refugees but the need to provide sanctuary for these people has not gone away. Indeed, it is increasingly pressing as a result of conflicts, such as that in Syria, persecutory regimes in the Middle East and Africa and the recent fire in the Moria Refugee Camp in Greece.
As a resident of Cambridge I’m very proud of the work done by the City Council to resettle and support over 120 refugees over the last 5 years. I’m also very proud of all of the local people who’ve given their time, money and homes to welcome the people resettled here. I know that local community groups and charities, such as the Cambridge Refugee Resettlement Campaign, have done a great job supporting the people we’ve received and stand ready to work with the City Council to support the next group of people to be received.
Now, in a time when the UK government is openly hostile to asylum seekers and migrants in general, where a sitting Home Secretary vilifies lawyers and courts for upholding basic human rights, I’m looking to you as my elected representative to stand up for the vulnerable and the values of our city.
I ask that you support our petition, and join us in calling on the Council to pledge to extend the UK resettlement scheme as soon as possible to include another 125 people over the next 5 years. I hope you will also feel able to confirm your willingness as a Councillor to receive people relocated from the terrible conditions in the Aegean islands as part of, or in addition to, this number.
Thank you for your time, I look forward to your response detailing your position on this matter.
Link to the petition:
Text of the petition
We the undersigned petition the council to …
1) commit to extending the current Council refugee resettlement program to receive an additional 125 refugees or asylum seekers from abroad.
2) communicate to relevant agencies and departments in the UK Government, and through public statements, Cambridge City Council’s willingness to welcome and support more refugees in Cambridge, especially, but not exclusively, refugees on the Greek islands who are stuck in unsafe and inhumane camps as well as through the UK Resettlement Scheme.
3) invite district councils within Cambridgeshire to join and collaborate with Cambridge City Council to commit to accept additional resettled refugees within their districts, as previously demonstrated by South Cambridgeshire District Council in 2019.
4) where possible, make council housing available to people resettled through this scheme.
5) commit to working with local agencies, residents, landlords and charities to resolve any barriers to resettlement or support, such as finding or subsidising affordable accommodation.
As a city, we continue to express solidarity and compassion for refugees around the world. We want our City Council to continue to live up to their previous commitment to be a ‘city of sanctuary’ by inviting and welcoming more refugees to share our diverse city with us.
The current scheme has successfully resettled around 125 refugees over 5 years to Cambridge from various countries and nationalities. The resettlement scheme has allowed us to welcome some of the most vulnerable of the millions of refugees worldwide. However, this cannot be a one-time solution: we must continue to show that Cambridge welcomes refugees.
We are particularly appalled by the treatment and experiences of an estimated 27,000 refugees trapped in camps on the Aegean Islands in Greece, as highlighted by the Europe Must Act campaign. Refugees in these camps face inadequate sanitary conditions, minimal running water and cramped living conditions. This is especially acute in light of the current pandemic: it is impossible to isolate, social distance and even wash your hands frequently in the camps. There are already 35 cases of Covid-19 amongst the Moria population.
The devastating fire in Moria which raged between 7th-9th September has given this situation new urgency. All have lost their homes; many have lost their life possessions. 40% of the affected people are children. The 35 known Covid-19 cases are now dispersed amongst the 13,000 people sleeping on the street.
The fire was a direct result of the conditions in the camp which Europe has consistently ignored for four years. The UK was instrumental in forming the policies which created these camps.
Therefore, although neither the EU nor the UK Government has committed to a process for local authorities to accept refugees evacuated from the camps, we would like Cambridge City Council to make clear it’s wish for the UK to participate in such a process and the City Council’s willingness to receive refugees from the camps in Greece, in addition to refugees resettled from other places. The mayor and city council of Berlin have already committed to receive 15,000 people in this manner.
We would like to express great pride in the work done by the City Council and local charities and residents in resettling, welcoming and supporting refugees in Cambridge and ask that you keep going and don’t let us down now.