Making Wales as a Nation of Sanctuary

Yesterday, the Equality, Local Government & Communities Committee published a report  calling for all people and all sectors in Wales to work together to build Wales as a Nation of Sanctuary.

If the recommendations presented are taken forward then life will be better for some of the most vulnerable people within our communities. People who have endured unimaginable hardships, people who despite all obstacles have reached a place of safety, some of the bravest and most resilient people I have ever had the privilege to meet.

The report is based on an extensive inquiry into the issues facing refugees and asylum seekers in Wales today. Committee members have made it a priority to give refugees and asylum seekers a strong voice during the evidence gathering process. It is clear from the report that Committee members have listened to the experiences of refugees and asylum seekers and have been moved by what they heard.

We can barely even imagine what it must be like to grab your family and run. To leave everything else you know and love behind to try to find a safe place and a chance of a new life. How would we cope? How would we want our families to be supported?

As a globally responsible nation, Wales cannot fail in offering a place of welcome to our new friends and neighbours. We have a responsibility to future generations to show that Wales did not turn its back on refugees but opened its arms and welcomed them with a warm heart.

If the recommendations in the report are taken forward, our new friends and neighbours can better begin their journey to recovery, start a new life and their families can flourish. People will be able to learn English sooner, access essential services, live in houses of a standard expected within Welsh society, will not be left destitute, their skills and qualifications will be recognised and children arriving alone will be supported by a guardian. If as a nation we can take forward the recommendations in this report, as a society we will celebrate the joy and contribution our new
friends and neighbours make to enrich our communities and will be well on the path to becoming the world’s first Nation of Sanctuary.

You can be part of this journey, please ask your Assembly Members to support the recommendations in the Committee report and if you have a story of how you or your community has welcomed or supported refugees and asylum seekers please share it.

Today is a proud day to be a citizen of Wales and the world.