Thousands of people are demanding the government reverses its decision to cut funding that ensures vulnerable refugees can access housing and healthcare if the UK crashes out of the EU without a deal.
Around 23,000 people, including actors Emma Thompson and Joanna Lumley, backed the open letter in response to what the Refugee Council called a “disgraceful U-turn”. Westminster confirmed it won’t guarantee the pre-allocated Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) cash – the UK’s contribution to a pot of billions of euros set up by the EU in 2014 for member states to support the effective integration of non-EU nationals including refugees – which is currently distributed to UK charities.
Portions of the AMIF funding was issued by central government, including the Refugee Council, Refugee Action, Barnet Refugee Service, RETAS and the Refugee Women’s Association. But, despite having committed to safekeeping other streams of funding that would otherwise be coming straight from the EU, ministers have refused to do so for these AMIF funds.
Maurice Wren, Refugee Council chief executive, said:“The fact is this funding is for refugees who are in the gravest danger – those who are very likely to end up on the streets without our support, are destitute and extremely isolated. It is hard to believe that these vital services are going to be shut down.
“We urge the Chancellor, Sajid Javid, to see reason and listen to what thousands of people are saying – overturn this decision immediately so that we can continue to help refugees build their lives and start to contribute to UK society.”
The charities said the total value of the AMIF funding they receive is in the tens of millions and key to providing vital services like housing, healthcare and help into employment for around 30,000 refugees in the UK – many of whom are already “at crisis point”.