Jeremy Corbyn joins hundreds in rallying against 'inhumane' refugee bill

Protestors have called for the government to not agree the bill. 

Protestors have called for the government to not agree the bill. - Credit: Kat Pirnak

Hundreds attended a pro-refugee rally last Wednesday to protest the Nationality and Borders Bill currently being debated in parliament.

Jeremy Corbyn was one of several north London MPs who joined the Refugees Welcome gathering in Parliament Square.

The Islington North MP told the Islington Gazette: “I’m here to give refugees solidarity and oppose the Nationality and Borders Bill which will make their life much harder in this country.

“The Government should back off, start being human, and start recognising that any one of us, including every government minister, could himself be a refugee.”

Other North London MPs who attended the rally include Catherine West of Hornsey and Wood Green as well as Bambos Charalambous of Enfield Southgate.

The bill seeks to differentiate between refugees with a place on the resettlement programme versus those who seek asylum after entering the UK. 

The gathering in Parliament Square.

The gathering in Parliament Square. - Credit: Kat Pirnak

A Home Office spokesperson said: “Our new plan for immigration is based on a simple principle that the right to come here, to settle here and to build a life here should be based on need, not the ability to pay organised criminal gangs to smuggle you into the UK.   

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“That means building a new system that is fair but firm. Fair by welcoming and supporting those in genuine need but firm by stopping the abuse of the system.”

However, the proposal was met with outrage from people with lived experiences of asylum seeking as well as charities such as Women for Refugee Women (WRW) - who also organised the rally. 

Director of WRW Alphonsine Kabagabo, 59, who sought asylum to escape the Rwandan genocide in 1994, told the Islington Gazette: “The Nationality and Borders Bill does not understand the challenges faced by refugees. 

“It will distinguish people based on the way they arrived in the UK but when you are in danger you take any route.

“We want to shout loudly that refugees should be welcomed. An immigration bill should listen to those who are fleeing war and genocide. It should put refugees at the centre because they are people, not numbers.”

The Home Office has defended the need for the policy

The Home Office has defended the need for the policy - Credit: Kat Pirnak

To spread awareness, the rally hosted 12 refugee speakers, including Nour Jarrouj and Joel Mordi, who all expressed anger towards the bill.

Syrian speaker Nour, 28, told the Islington Gazette: “The bill is inhumane. It not only makes it harder for people to seek asylum, but it also narrows the support that refugees are given here. 

“It’s important that we give visibility to refugees and let them speak their own truth.”

Joel Mordi, 26, who sought asylum after promoting LGBT rights in Nigeria, added: “The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Why would you classify people based on circumstances that are beyond their control? 

“I studied here before, and I left happy. I never knew this side of England before seeking asylum.”