Amid the political tumult at this week’s Labour Party conference in Brighton, Muslim Aid held a fringe event encouraging parliamentarians and others in public life to give the global refugee crisis the focus it deserves.
The event was chaired by Muslim Aid’s advocacy manager, Lotifa Begum, who has recently returned from visiting Syrian refugees in Lebanon in camps where we provide education and training as well as healthcare.
As well as Muslim Aid chief executive Jehangir Malik, speakers included shadow international development minister and Nottingham MP Alex Norris, and International Rescue Committee head of policy Helen Stawski.
"Britain's refugee population is just a quarter of a per cent”, pointed out Mr Malik. “Places like Lebanon host huge numbers and are under strain, but you don't hear the same rhetoric in the same way about refugees there."
Ms Stawski raised the vast difference between spending on aid and security, saying, "82% of resources given to the Sahel have gone not to helping people but to stopping them from migrating, to security services. Fewer people are dying in the Mediterranean but more people are dying in the desert."
Mr Norris talked about the responsibility of parliamentarians to be involved in the conversation, saying, "I want decent healthcare and public services for my ward, and my whole constituency. And I want them for the whole country, but if I want them for the country then I want them for the whole world."
At the current rate of forced displacement, over 160,000 people will have had to flee their homes during the four and a half days in which Labour conference took place.
Earlier this week we published our short briefing on the global refugee crisis and our work involving it, “More than just survival.” The briefing argues for a collective focus on longer term solutions such as finding training and work for displaced people, and for concrete action from politicians and public figures to address hostility toward refugees.
We will be continuing to draw attention to the refugee crisis issue campaign for stronger commitments from government to doing our part to tackle it.