Councillor Ross Brown to attend refugee vigil at City Hall

Speaking in advance of the vigil at Belfast City Hall tonight, Monday, 07 September 2015, East Belfast Green Party Councillor Ross Brown said,

“I will be attending tonight’s vigil at the City Hall to show my support for refugees who are literally fleeing for their lives.

“I can only begin to imagine what it takes to uproot your family and place them in the hands of people smugglers, with no guarantee of safety at the end of a perilous journey.

“Action by European Governments to step up to do their part in helping those fleeing persecution is long overdue. To date, developing countries have shouldered the biggest burden and of the four million people who have fled Syria, the vast majority are hosted by Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt.

“In recent days it has been great to see such a generous reaction and response from the people in Northern Ireland with donations being channelled into tangible collections of essential supplies to be sent to refugees in Calais.

“Nevertheless this issue will not disappear overnight the government must ensure that plans are in place to help people over the longer term.”

Councillor Ross Brown continued,

“Across Europe, Greens have long campaigned for revision of policy to create a clear procedure for safe and legal entry for refugees that would significantly reduce the huge numbers engaging in risky sea crossings. This should include a quota system to ensure that all countries share in the responsibility of helping people.

“We also need to adequately resource search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean.

“Within the UK, the reallocation of money from the foreign aid budget to supporting refugees is the equivalent of robbing Peter to pay Paul and does nothing to address the underlying issues.

“I would also call on the UK Government to consider relaxing the law to allow asylum seekers to work while their applications are being processed.

“I know the people of Belfast will step up and offer hospitality and support to those refugees who will arrive in Northern Ireland.”

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