After the results of the referendum on the membership of the European Union, where a majority of voters in the United Kingdom decided to leave the EU, many UK ECRE members, including the British Refugee Council, Refugee Action and the Scottish Refugee Council called upon UK leaders to uphold their commitment to refugees’ rights.

“Even ‘out’, Britain must work with European states to share responsibilities in hosting refugees and guaranteeing their humane treatment,” stated the British Refugee Council. “No mainstream politician spoke against Britain being a safe haven for refugees,” reminded Refugee Action.

“Previous British leaders helped to establish the international laws protecting people fleeing violence and persecution. Unravelling those protections for the world’s most vulnerable would be a travesty,” warned 14 refugee-assisting organisations in a joint letter to The Times.

The Scottish Refugee Council highlighted that the majority of Scottish voters expressed themselves in favour of remaining part of the EU and urged Scotland to “continue to be a beacon for how we treat those in need of protection and safeguard their rights”.

A concerning increase in the number of racist attacks against migrants and citizens with a migrant background living in the UK has been reported after the results of the referendum, and groups on social media are monitoring and reporting violence and verbal harassment as they happen. Amnesty International launched a campaign to combat the rise of hate speech and racial abuse since the referendum results and has issued an urgent call to local authorities to condemn all attacks and ensure that all incidents are properly investigated.

While immigration and the so-called “refugee crisis” was one of the key topics during the referendum campaigns, the UK has only been marginally touched by the increase in refugee arrivals during the past year. In addition, the country is not party to the relocation programme and maintains opt-out clauses from most EU asylum legislation.

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This article appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 1 July 2016. You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.