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Brighton & Hove shows it’s all heart for refugees!

People of Brighton & Hove turned out in force on 17 October 2021 to ‘show they’re all heart’ in support of refugees. More than 200 people from across the city joined together to form a huge, human, orange heart on Brighton beach – the symbol of welcome to refugees.

The orange heart was formed in front of the ruined West Pier and supporters captured aerial footage.

The event, organised by Sanctuary on Sea and University of Sussex Student Action for Refugees took place as part of the Together With Refugees week of action, which is taking place between 18-24 October 2021. Thousands of people across the country are joining forces during the week of action to protest against the Nationality and Borders Bill and to call for a kinder, fairer and more effective approach to how the UK supports refugees.

Paul Hutchings, member of Sanctuary on Sea and Chief Executive of Refugee Support Europe, said: “We want to live in a country that not only welcomes people who have had to leave their countries, but also one that respects international law. This Bill coming before Parliament is immoral and it breaks so many international treaties that our reputation around the world will be as ruined as the West Pier.”

We created a great video of the event.

The week comes as MPs return to Parliament to consider the Nationality and Borders Bill currently making its way through the House of Commons. The new legislation would mean that most people who would be accepted as refugees under the current rules – meaning those confirmed to have fled war or persecution following rigorous official checks – would no longer have their rights recognised in the UK due to their method of arrival. Half of these would be women and children and includes those left behind in Afghanistan.

Our action was supported by local MP Caroline Lucas who said:

It’s hard to think of a Bill more lacking in compassion and fairness and which does so little to address asylum issues.  It is a mean-spirited, inhumane and possibly illegal response which will criminalise many seeking sanctuary and play into the hands of people traffickers. It is badly thought-through, puts vulnerable people at risk, undermines the UN refugee convention (which the UK helped write in 1951), restricts access to justice, and in many respects is unworkable.

We need to fix the asylum system in a way that respects our international obligations, protects the rights of asylum seekers and promotes fairness and compassion. This means fair and efficient asylum processes for everyone, more safe and legal routes and support for people to rebuild their lives here. This bill fails on all counts.

We asked local MPs Peter Kyle and Lloyd Russell-Moyle for their opinion. They did not respond. If you are one of their constituents – please ask them how they will be voting!