New campaign aims to welcome refugees and migrants
By Alastair Ball
A group of Haringey residents have launched a campaign to make Haringey and the areas which fall within it, including Tottenham, more welcoming for migrants and refugees.
Haringey Welcome, launched on 24th February, will campaign for ‘fairness, dignity and respect for migrants and refugees’ and to ‘reinforce the positive values of diversity and inclusivity’ across the borough.
Lucy Nabijou, the campaign coordinator, said they are campaigning for, “decency and respect for all refugees and migrants whether you have been here a few days or years”.
She added that refugees and migrants are often some of the “most vulnerable people in society”. The campaign’s main aim is to address the “hostile environment” that makes it difficult for refugees and migrants to access public services. It also aims to tackle the suspicion of refugees and migrants that creates “hostility in the wider community”.
“People are afraid to access public services,” Nabijou said. “People are afraid to go to the police. People are afraid to go the doctors, which has public health implications.”
She was keen to stress the hostile environment’s impact on all residents of the borough, saying that they want “more open public services in Haringey”.
Ciaran Price, communications and public affairs officer at the Migrants Resource Centre, which is based in Tottenham, added: “When victims of crime are too afraid to tell the police, because they fear having their own status being questioned, for instance, crime goes unreported and that makes us less safe.”
He continued: “When they are excluded, which is what we are seeing happen to migrants, our society doesn’t function properly and we are weaker as a result.”
Haringey Welcome will work with other campaigns such as Docs Not Cops, which campaigns against immigration checks when accessing NHS services; Schools ABCs, which opposes immigration questions on the school census; and Project 17, which works to reduce destitution among the children of migrants and refugees.
Eve Dickson, Project 17 policy officer, said: “We welcome the launch of Haringey Welcome and the work they are doing to advocate for dignity and respect for all migrants.
“Sadly, intimidation, disrespect and discrimination are routine. The borough is urgently in need of Haringey Welcome’s campaign.”
Activists from Haringey Welcome had previous success with a campaign called “Refugees Welcome Haringey” in 2015, which was part of the national Refugees Welcome movement. The campaign encouraged the council to help families of Syrian refugees settle in the borough as part of the government’s resettlement scheme. In November 2016, the council announced that it would resettle 10 Syrian refugee families in the Haringey.
Nabijou would like voters in Haringey to raise the treatment of refugees and migrants with the newly elected local councillors.
“A culture change is necessary,” she said, as “a lot of migrants are destitute or in vulnerable situations.”