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REFUGEES from Ukraine and other conflict zones today condemned Tory attempts to punish people like them for trying to reach safety at a protest against the Borders Bill.
Ukrainian mother Dartsa and her six-year-old daughter were among a group of refugees and celebrities who boarded a boat on the Thames to urge MPs to oppose the Nationality and Borders Bill.
Dartsa, who is being hosted at the London home of actor Juliet Stevenson, who was also on the boat, said: “The changes the government wants to make to how the UK treats refugees like us makes me very sad.
“Nobody should be punished when they have already had to escape such terrible things as we have.
“I would want everyone who arrives to receive the warmth and kindness that we have.”
Ms Stevenson, a lifelong refugee rights advocate, said people forced to leave their homes should be treated with dignity and compassion “rather than suspicion and red tape.”
The boat protest was organised by the Together for Refugees coalition in a bid to persuade Tory MPs not to vote for the Bill later that day in the Commons.
Others on board include refugees from Syria, Afghanistan and Kosovo, as well as celebrity judge Robert Rinder and model Lily Cole.
Afghan refugee Syed Hashemi warned the Bill would make seeking sanctuary in Britain an “impossibility for thousands of refugees facing the horror of war and persecution like me.”
Some of the most contentious elements of the legislation, including plans to create offshore asylum centres, have twice been stripped out by peers.
Despite widespread opposition to the measures, Home Secretary Priti Patel last week announced a deal to send asylum-seekers on a one-way trip to Rwanda.
She also revealed a new “asylum reception centre” in the remote town of Linton-on-Ouse in North Yorkshire, where asylum-seekers are expected to be held in similar accommodation to Napier Barracks in Folkestone.
SNP MP Anna Thewliss, the chair of the all-party parliamentary group on detention, which has repeatedly called for the closure of the ex-army barracks, criticised the plans.
“My recent visit to Napier Barracks allowed me to see first-hand how profoundly unsuitable and dehumanising such sites are for asylum-seekers.
“It is frightening to imagine what a facility located in another country thousands of miles away from scrutiny will be like.”
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