Cross-party motion to debate Syrian refugee crisis at Full Council

 A cross-party motion on the Syrian refugee crisis has been submitted for debate at this month's Full Council meeting on the 20th October.

The joint-motion in the names of the Leader of the Labour Group - Cllr Alison Moore, the Council Leader - Cllr Richard Cornelius and Liberal Democrat councillor - Jack Cohen, commits the council to helping Barnet's local community re-settle 50 Syrian refugees.

Local faith and community groups, most notably Citizens UK, have worked to identify housing, schools and job opportunities for at least 50 refugees.

The motion follows a meeting, called by the Labour Group, between representatives of the Labour Group and the Council Leader, to discuss what the council could do to help these efforts by the community to support those fleeing war torn Syria.

Over 4 million people have fled Syria because of the conflict, with 7.6 million internally displaced - the largest mass movement of people fleeing their homes since the Second World War.

Leader of the Barnet Labour Group, Cllr Alison Moore said: "The local community has already shown great energy, goodwill and compassion in organising initiatives to help Syrian families trying to reach a safe haven, and the Labour Group believes that the council is well placed to be able to show leadership on this issue and support the community in their extraordinary efforts.

"We stand shoulder to shoulder in solidarity with those fleeing their homes and livelihoods as a result of conflict and brutality.

"We cannot ignore the plight of people - men, women and children - facing such terrible suffering, nor fail to act to help those who have been forced to leave their own country through no fault of their own.

"While we may disagree strongly with the government and believe they are not doing enough to help, locally we want to work together to do as much as possible - and the commitments set out in the joint motion are a start."


1. A copy of the joint-motion follows:

Joint Motion in the names of Cllr Richard Cornelius, Cllr Alison Moore and Cllr Jack Cohen

Syrian refugee crisis

Council has great sympathy for the plight of refugees, notably those driven from their homes in Syria.

Council notes that the current refugee crisis is the greatest such crisis in Europe since World War II and represents the largest mass movement of people fleeing their homes and livelihoods since that war, with 4.1m people having fled Syria, and a further 7.6m internally displaced.

The scenes of human suffering played out daily on the news make us all conscious of the need for supranational and British Government action to end the conflict and allow normal life to be restored.

Council recognises that the vast majority of refugees that have fled Syria have been absorbed by neighbouring countries and notes that the UK has delivered over £1bn in aid, including large sums to support refugees in those neighbouring countries.

Council also notes that the government has agreed to resettle 20,000 refugees over 5 years in the UK.

Council recognises that Barnet is a place with acute pressures on housing. However it is a large borough with a proud tradition of helping those seeking refuge and is home to refugees and their descendants from all over the world. Indeed it is a borough whose own success has, in no small part, been built on the success of those who have previously sought refuge.

Council feels it would be wrong to shut our eyes to the situation of those in danger. Barnet therefore thanks the large number of residents who have already volunteered, donated or offered to assist those in need, and applauds the work of community organisations, notably Citizens UK, who have identified housing, schooling, GPs and even offers of employment in the borough.

Council commits to support their endeavours and to use its position as the leading organisation in the borough to inspire such generosity and enable others. Subject to compatibility with the government scheme and suitable funding, so as not to disadvantage our existing residents, we would commit to helping the community resettle at least 50 Syrian refugees in the borough as extra accommodation is found.

Council further recognises that many more people are likely to end up in the London boroughs as a result of this conflict, arriving via other channels (such as internal migration within the UK following initial resettlement). Council calls upon the Chief Executive to begin preparing plans to deal with this.

In the meantime, Council calls on officers to continue to take practical steps to support residents in assisting with the crisis; sign-posting information to help people donate and volunteer their services, such as those of a linguistic nature, or coordinate offers of accommodation.

Council notes that national government has the leading role in identifying, transporting and supporting refugees, but that every local authority in the UK has a part it can play. Council confirms that Barnet will do its bit.

Council therefore calls upon the Chief Executive to write to the Secretary of State and inform him of our borough's readiness to assist those in dire need, as we have done before and will do so again in the future.

2. For more from Barnet Labour on the refugee crisis see:

For more information contact Cllr Moore:
To contact the Barnet Labour Group: 020 8359 2568



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