Refugee welcomes Lewisham council’s commitment to asylum seekers

A Syrian refugee who fled her war-torn country seven years ago has welcomed a council initiative to create a better atmosphere for asylum seekers.

Lewisham council approved its sanctuary strategy on Wednesday, a new policy aimed at making the borough more accommodating for those seeking refuge.

Waed moved to Lewisham in 2019 with her husband and three children, after spending seven years in a refugee camp in Zaatari, Jordan.

She said: “I miss my beautiful country of Syria and I hope one day soon the wars will stop and people can live in peace again.

“Here in Lewisham I feel safe again. I want to thank the council for their help and all the people who have been so nice to me and my family.”

She will play a crucial role in the strategy by assisting families in their transition to life in the borough: She said: “Now I can help, too, by interpreting and supporting other refugee families and the local community here as I did in the Zaatari camp.”

As part of the strategy, Lewisham council has committed to a target of resettling 100 families, ensuring that children with no recourse to public funds (NRPF) receive free meals, and have removed a home office official from their NRPF service, redirecting the funds instead to support independent legal advice.

Rosario Guimba-Stewart, chief executive officer at the Lewisham Refugee and Migrant Network, said: “Becoming a borough of sanctuary for refugees, asylum seekers and migrants is a deep commitment which requires cultural change, political will, community engagement, resources and great respect for human rights. It is a long and difficult journey but I believe that by working together we will get there one day.”

Pictured top: Waed moved to Lewisham in 2019 with her husband and three children, after spending seven years in a refugee camp in Zaatari, Jordan


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