16 October 2015


On Tuesday 13 October around 900 people gathered at Old Palace Yard, Westminster, London for a vigil and to ask David Cameron's government to resettle 1000 Syrian refugees before Christmas. This vigil was organised by Citizens UKwhich is the home of community organising in the United Kingdom and the largest civic alliance in Europe. 

In the run up to the 2015 general election, community leaders organised by Citizens UK  approached prospective parliamentary candidates to seek support so that more Syrian refugees would be resettled in the United Kingdom. Further more, community leaders approached councils up and down the country to convince them to take at least 50 refugees in every council. 

In the past few months thousands of British people have shown their readiness and willingness to welcome refugees. They have offered their rooms, time, skills, friendship and money. Yet the response from the government has been too slow. As the Syrian crisis got from bad to worse and the public challenged the government, the British government announced that it would to take in 20000 Syrian refugees over the course of 5 years. 

Following the announcement, Citizens UK have been working all over the country to organise the civil society and secure pledges from more local councils and landlords, that they will house refugees once they arrive here in the UK. The response from the councils and the landlords has been encouraging and it was an indication that when the civil society acts in an organised way, the government and the market could listen. 

The October 13 vigil was attended by senior politicians, religious leaders and members of the public. Among the speakers was Tim Farron MP, Leader of the Liberal Democrats, who said, " You do not cling to the bottom of a moving truck risking everything if you are looking for an easy life." This is a powerful reminder to the government that people risk everything they have in their search for safety. Hence we cannot turn a blind eye to the crisis and therefore should play our bits as citizens of this world. 

The vigil which was entitled Resettle 1000 Refugees Before Christmas  was the first step to challenge the government to act in the sense of urgency and resettle the most vulnerable 1000 refugees before it is too cold.  

The people are ready to do what it takes to welcome refugees. It is down to the government to do what is right at the right time.

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