Refugees and Human Rights

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:20 pm on 24th January 2018.

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Photo of Marsha de Cordova Marsha de Cordova Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions) (Disabled People) 3:20 pm, 24th January 2018

Time is short, so I will not.

As the Member of Parliament for Battersea, I must mention the work of a previous MP for the area, Lord Alf Dubs, whose tireless campaigning for child refugees will, we hope, finally undo the Government’s refusal to change the family reunion rules. Mothers and fathers in the UK are unable to sponsor their adult children to join them here. Refugee children in the UK are forced to live apart from their parents, and refugees are unable to bring elderly relatives to live here with them in safety. In my own borough, I have seen the failure of Conservative Wandsworth Council, which has housed a mere two Syrian refugee families.

I spoke recently in a Westminster Hall debate on the enslavement of black African refugees in Libya. The Minister has spoken in detail on that subject. I must also briefly mention the refugees in Yemen. We are creating that situation ourselves through our arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

I cannot talk about UK foreign policy and refugees without mentioning one of the oldest United Nations refugee missions in existence: the refugee camps in Palestine. I have visited the camps in Bethlehem, part of the occupied west bank, where three generations of displaced Palestinians continue to face statelessness. Now more than ever, it is important that Britain shows itself to be a team player internationally: tolerant, open and a champion of human rights. In an age of division, we cannot look for short-term solutions. We must be principled leaders.