Like most people I was horrified at the images that we have seen this week and have taken a number of steps in response, some of which are already under way locally.
I have joined almost all of my parliamentary colleagues in supporting a request to the back bench business committee for an urgent debate on the refugee crisis.
The application for the debate was made by Stephen Twigg MP who is the chair of the International Development select committee. We are in agreement that this debate would allow us to push the Government to do more both in the short term, and in the longer term, to stabilise those regions where people are no longer safe.
I am pleased that David Cameron has agreed to take ‘thousands’ more people fleeing Syria, however the Labour party will push him to continue to do the right thing and be more specific about the numbers of people and exactly how we will be providing help.
Here in Halifax, I have met with council leader Tim Swift who has called for councils across Britain to each offer to support a number of Syrian refugee families as part of a coordinated national response to the crisis.
We have agreed that we would like to see Calderdale take a lead in offering to provide support to Syrian refugee families as part of that response and will be working with all the political parties and council officers to make that a reality.
I am also working on plans with the council and St. Augustine’s community centre to put together a photo exhibition highlighting some of the stories from those refugees and asylum seekers who are already with us here in Halifax – from the harrowing journeys they have been on, to the lives that they have been able to live here in a welcoming community. I hope this will help to raise awareness of their plight.
I will continue to work on this evolving crisis and will strive to keep everyone updated as and when there are developments.