Like many, we have been shocked and saddened by the events in Ukraine. Whenever we are faced with these kinds of images, and the heart-breaking stories of people suffering, it’s hard to know how to help.
City of Sanctuary UK have created a helpful list of actions for those who want to help. There is strength in the solidarity we are seeing, people rising up and urging for their fellow human beings to be received with welcome.
At Bristol City of Sanctuary, we are always heartened by the responses of people in our community when crises like this arise. From offers of items to donate, to spare rooms, the people of Bristol go above and beyond to demonstrate that we are a city of welcome.
The government can, and must, do more. Not just for those fleeing from Ukraine, but for those fleeing war, persecution and the impact of the climate crisis across the world. We need to be a nation of sanctuary and welcome for so many more than the few allowed through government resettlement routes.
The Nationality and Borders Bill proposes to criminalise anyone travelling outside of these routes, affording them less protection and less entitlement to financial support and family reunion. This would mean that people fleeing here from Ukraine, who arrive outside of any resettlement routes proposed by the government, could be considered inadmissible to the asylum system. The situation in Ukraine highlights how truly devastating these proposals would be for people fleeing for safety.
It also highlights the flaws in an asylum system which seeks to deter rather than welcome. The lack of clarity and foresight over the visas for people fleeing has led to many stranded at the borders.*
No one wants to leave their home, and the fear that people must be feeling as they pack up and escape across the borders is heart-breaking. Our thoughts go out to all those affected by the situation in Ukraine, and to all those impacted by war and violence across the world.