Manchester’s opposition leader has said the city should “hang its head in shame” today, two years after he uncovered Manchester Council was refusing to accept Syrian refugees.
In a shock turn during the meeting two years ago, Mr Leech revealed that Manchester was yet to accept a single Syrian refugee under the government’s resettlement scheme despite the war-torn region enduring one of the worst crises for decades.
He demanded that the council take on 50 at-risk Syrian refugee families and as many as possible unaccompanied children.
At the time Deputy Leader of the Council, Sue Murphy said: “Manchester was prepared to play their part”, but claimed they were waiting for Government funds to come in first.
Two years on and nothing has changed.
John Leech, the Leader of the Opposition in Manchester, released harsh words claiming the city and council should “hang its head in shame”.
He said: “Two years on and Manchester has done absolutely nothing for the tens of thousands of children at risk of death, abuse, abduction, trafficking and rape.
“These are real children’s lives – they are wandering around Europe with nowhere to go and Manchester Council has put a price tag on them.
“I urge everyone in Manchester to contact their local councillor and ask them to sign up to our cross-party campaign which has so far not been supported by a single Labour councillor.
“Today, on World Refugee Day, Manchester should hang its head in shame.”
The EU’s criminal intelligence agency estimate that more than 10,000 children have already gone missing since arriving in Europe. They fear that children are being kidnapped for slavery and sexual exploitation.
Richard Kilpatrick, Deputy Leader of the Opposition added: “Manchester Council is spending £330m on refurbishing the town hall and £110,000 per year increasing senior staff wages by up to 60%, but when it comes to dying children, they have turned their backs.
“If Manchester wants to be an international city that leads in the world, we have to step up in crises like this.
“The rest of the world should know that this unspeakably cruel decision to reject vulnerable children do not speak for the Liberal Democrats.”
Rethink Rebuild Society (RRS) is a community organisation that works to improve the lives of Syrians in Manchester and help them become positively established within British society.
Dr. Haytham Alhamwi, Managing Director of Rethink Rebuild Society, said: “We are asking Manchester City Council to accept Mr Leech’s demands of at least 50 Syrian families through the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme that was announced in 2015.
“We also ask Manchester City Council to accept as many unaccompanied Syrian children as possible, who are in urgent need for all kinds of support”.