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Joining renowned hip hop recording artist, actor, poet and one of the UK’s best-loved podcasters Scroobius Pip was not an ‘average day in the office.’
Not least for someone like me who, day-to-day, oversees a team that tries to influence politicians to create positive change for refugees.
But the conversations we had in this special episode were not only wide-ranging; they also got to the heart of the issue that we’ve partnered with Ben & Jerry’s to campaign on.
Here are four things we discussed.
This campaign is based on a simple belief – that everyone needs a safe place to call home. This is what we’re fighting for – a sensible approach that ensures the most vulnerable refugees reach safety. It’s easy to get lost in those numbers. Over 65 million people are displaced from their homes worldwide, 1.2 million are in urgent need of resettlement. But it’s vital to remember that behind the numbers are individuals, people with hopes and dreams just like you and I.
One of the stories I told Scroobius Pip, and fellow Together for Refugees campaigner Rebecca Baron was about Khaled, who the IRC met in Sweden. His life changed forever in March 2014 when his house in Syria was hit by heavy shelling.
“Everything was destroyed. My dreams, everything we built, gone in an instant,” he told us. That day he lost a number of his family members, including two of his children. His own leg was shattered. For many of us, it’s hard to imagine this. But, frankly, it's the reality of people fleeing for their lives, with no choice in the matter.
After spending around a year in Lebanon receiving treatment, he was offered the opportunity to apply for resettlement, and arrived safely in Sweden a year ago.
“It was difficult for us in Lebanon. But it’s been good to come to Sweden – to become healthier and to work.”
“I have Swedish friends, who I invite home. But I hope for the other refugees who are stuck in Lebanon. I speak to relatives who still have a very difficult time.”
It’s stories like this that prove that we in Europe can do better when we choose to. People who were in unimaginable situations, who were forced to leave their homes without knowing if they’ll ever be able to return, can reach safety in Europe.
Our campaign is absolutely winnable. We’ve chosen to try to influence the admittedly un-catchy but important ‘Union Resettlement Framework’ because we know that if we get this legislation right, and build enough support for it, we can put into law a commitment to help the most vulnerable refugees.
Since we launched Together for Refugees, thousands of people around Europe have emailed their representatives, asking them to champion refugee resettlement. We’re pleased to say that politicians are hearing you.
Take the UK, where members of the British public have emailed Claude Moraes, an influential Member of the European Parliament for London. At a recent conference in the European Parliament, he mentioned our campaign and voiced the need for a change, explaining that we can make refugee resettlement work -- we just need the right level of political commitment to do so.
History shows us that people power works. The refugee crisis can seem like too big a problem to solve – but it’s manageable if we grasp the positive opportunities there are to drive real change.
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It is great to know that MEPs like Claude are listening but we need them to push for new, safe and legal routes for refugees at the highest levels. We need to demonstrate widespread support for refugees, particularly as sections of the media seek to demonise them. To achieve this we need to build up more pressure on MEPs to ensure they adopt a similar stance – and we need your help.
Thank you for your support.
Together, we can bring hope and humanity to a world that’s torn apart.
Join Ben & Jerry's and the International Rescue Committee and email your representative. You can help vulnerable refugees reach safety. Ben and Jerry’s latest flavour, Home Sweet Honeycomb has been launched to help spread the word. The more people who are together for refugees – the more likely it is that we can make this happen. Get involved and learn more here.