8 April 2022
All individuals are born equal in dignity and rights, and all form an integral part of humanity. Refugees of African and Asian descent must be afforded the same access to employment as people of European descent, as this allows them to live with dignity and independence.
In recent weeks, the UK’s asylum and immigration rules have been inconsistent, favouring white European descent Ukrainians specifically. All refugees must be treated the same.
Dignified treatment means that self-contained accommodation must be provided to refugees. Sponsorship of named individual refugees should be by family members and registered community groups only. Safeguarding of vulnerable refugees cannot be adequately monitored when they are housed in rooms in owner-occupied homes of unrelated families.
UK-based refugee support groups must be able to make direct contact with individuals who are still displaced within regions of conflict in Africa and Western Asia, including in UNHCR camps.
If Ukrainian citizens and legal residents are to be issued with visas to travel to the UK without any refugee assessment or UNHCR documentation, then we call on the UK government to issue travel visas to citizens of Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Sudan, and Eritrea who are fleeing war and the oppressive aftereffects of recent war in those countries.
In the interests of fair and just treatment of individuals who are facing personal persecution and would qualify for refugee status under the 1951 UN Convention and its 1967 Protocol, we call on the UK government to immediately introduce a system of Humanitarian visas, in order to permit people of African and Asian descent to travel to Britain safely and legally, in the same way that Ukrainians are being encouraged to do.
In the interests of equality of opportunity in employment, if blanket refugee status is granted to Ukrainian citizens and legal residents who have chosen to resettle temporarily in the UK, and if the right to work immediately upon arrival in the UK is granted to those Ukrainians, then we call on the UK government to allow all other nationals with refugee claims and those whose applications are under consideration, to likewise be granted the right to work immediately upon arrival in the UK.
Signed by the directors of Oxford City of Sanctuary:
Dr Sheikh Ramzy
Dr Evelyne Godfrey
Mr Mohammed Nawaz
Mr Mohammed Azad