We must not turn our back on those fleeing Ukraine | Burnley Council leader Afrasiab Anwar column

Towneley Hall was lit up in blue and yellow to mark the borough’s solidarity with the people of Ukraine.

By Afrasiab Anwar
Thursday, 10th March 2022, 2:17 pm
Updated Thursday, 10th March 2022, 5:01 pm

We wanted to send out a message that we have the people of Ukraine in our hearts and minds during this terrible time.

In the circumstances it may not seem much, but we hope that it offers comfort and support to them in their hour of darkness.

Read More

Read More
Towneley Hall lit up in support of Ukraine

Sign up to our daily Burnley Express Today newsletter

Burnley Council leader Afrasiab Anwar

A peace vigil was also held in the Peace Gardens in partnership with Building Bridges in Burnley with attendance and contributions from local faith, community, and civic leaders.

As ever the voluntary sector and communities have mobilised to support the international humanitarian effort. If we can take one positive from this, it’s the unity our communities are displaying, something we are no strangers to of late particularly off the back of the pandemic.

It is important we stand together in support of the Ukrainian people and support all measures that will bring about a lasting political solution to this conflict. We hope that peace will return to Ukraine quickly and that its citizens can continue to enjoy a life of their choosing under a democratically elected government, not one imposed upon them through force and deadly violence.

As a council we are gearing up to welcome and assist refugees if called upon. We will also be calling on government to provide clarity on the support available for local councils.

Burnley has and always will play its part, but one thing I will call for is that it shouldn’t fall on the usual suspects whether that be in Lancashire or in the North. Councils up and down the country need to step up and play their part.

We must be prepared to welcome those seeking refuge from Ukraine, we cannot turn our backs on people in desperate need of sanctuary.

The government has responded by imposing sanctions on Russia and these will start to take effect.

However, the response to the refugee crisis needs to be swifter, too many people seeking refuge are being turned away at the border and quite frankly the numbers being allowed entry to the UK is shameful. This needs to be resolved as a matter of urgency.

We also need to be mindful about the language being used during this crisis. Support for those who are in fear of their lives should come from our shared humanity, compassion for others and because of the injustice they face. Not because of where they are coming from or their race, colour, or religion.

I attended Turf Moor when Burnley played Chelsea over the weekend. As Burnley fans and the footballing world stood shoulder to shoulder with the Ukrainians, sections of the Chelsea support showed a lack of class. On the pitch, the north south divide was also evident with the Chelsea team funded by the Russian Oligarch claiming victory.

Perhaps Levelling Up could start with the freezing of the assets of the Russian Owner and others like him.

Finally, the courage shown by President Zelensky has been outstanding. He has demonstrated true leadership by being willing to do what he asks of others.