THE REFUGEE CRISIS has led to a lot of talk among Londoners but, in Hackney, little action, despite the eagerness of local people to help. They are often disappointed with leading figures who spout sympathy yet propose no action. Words are of no use to displaced Syrians and unaccompanied children.
The London Assembly member for Hackney, Islington and Waltham Forest, Jennette Arnold, however, had no hesitation in bandwagoning on a Labour motion that “praised the Mayor”, Sadiq Khan, for his condemnation of President Trump’s ban on entry to the USA from some mainly Muslim countries
She issued a press release to reveal that she thought the ban “cruel and discriminatory”. Her “clear message” to the 2,600 people living in Hackney who were born in one of the banned countries was “You are welcome here”. Admirable , but what does that mean to someone refused leave to remain?
Separately, she told Loving Dalston exclusively that we had to challenge the ban. London was the “most diverse global city in the world” and its success could be attributed to the flow of ideas and talent from across the globe.
“Trump’s ban,” she explained, “threatens to undermine this. Our condemnation should be echoed by the Government.”
Asked what she was doing to change the “Show us the money” attitude of Hackney and other London councils that was used as a reason not to cater for more than a measly number of refugees from Syria and helpless children stranded in Europe, she said: “Hackney has expressed its commitment to supporting the Syrian Refugee Resettlement Scheme and to taking at least seven families.
However, since 2010 Hackney council had faced “government cuts of over 40%”.
The council was “absolutely committed” to supporting the Syrian scheme but because of the cuts was not able to fund it.
Hackney says it is “liaising with central government regarding the expected timeframe for additional arrivals”, which sounds like Bureaucratese for “If you’re a Syrian orphan, cross Hackney off your destinations wishlist”.
Hackney points out that it has taken its “first 3 Syrian refugee families”. Then it adds: “Priority is being given to orphans.” A between-the-lines reading suggests that Hackney is distancing itself from giving priority.
Arnold continued: “What refugees and unaccompanied children are fleeing is… horrifying. Hackney council, like many others, is… offering support wherever it can.
That the support is so limited is, apparently, the fault of the Tory Government. Never, it seems, of Labour-dominated Hackney council.
Hamish Scott 170217
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