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3 September 2015

We can do more about the refugee crisis – and we must

My own city of Liverpool stands willing and ready to welcome refugees - if the Home Secretary will say yes, says Liverpool's mayor Joe Anderson. 

By Joe Anderson Joe Anderson

The exodus of Syrian refugees desperately fleeing persecution from the ruthless thugs of ISIS is both heart-breaking and maddening. But yesterday’s images of the lifeless bodies of three year-old Aylan Kurdi and his five year-old brother Galip, washed-up on a Turkish beach, brought home more than any words ever could the desperation of these refugees and the degradation of those responsible for making them and millions like them flee their homes.

When small children are the ones paying the ultimate price, all those able to respond have a moral obligation to do so. As a grandfather, my heart bleeds for these people. Abdullah Kurdi, the boys’ father, now wants to return home to their Kurdish hometown of Kobani to bury his children as well as his wife, Rehan, who also died trying to reach Europe’s shores for sanctuary.

So far, the British government has done too little to respond to this crisis, or of the general issue of refugees fleeing persecution in unprecedented numbers from other warzones. There are always limits to what can be done and our efforts needs to be co-ordinated with other European nations, but, as a country, we have not even reached the starting block in terms of a proper response.

Children and families are dying in search of nothing more than the basics of food, shelter and safety. Doing nothing should not an option. We must get our act together.

In Liverpool, a city famous for our warm welcomes and as a safe port in the storm of global conflict, we are prepared to play our part. This is why I am today announcing that my administration is willing to take in 100 refugees if the Home Office will support us with the necessary resources.

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I am writing to Home Secretary, Theresa May, to make this offer and suggest that other local authorities do likewise. Individually, the contribution we would need to make is small, but together we can make an enormous difference and prevent any more innocent lives being needlessly lost by people who have already suffered so much.

The onus is on every political leader: international, national and local, to step up and alleviate the suffering of these refugees in whatever way we can.