NEWS

Sadiq Khan Says Taking 43 Refugees Is London's 'Badge Of Shame'

'I voted for resettling 3,000 Syrian children: that's the type of mayor we need.'

28/04/2016 22:35 | Updated 28 April 2016

Sadiq Khan has slammed the fact that London has taken in just a few dozen Syrian refugees, calling it a "a badge of shame" for the capital.

In a passionate debate with rival London Mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith on Thursday, Khan hit out at the news that only 43 Syrian refugees have been resettled in the city under an official scheme.

Over three million Syrians have become refugees over the five-year conflict, according to The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

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Khan at the London Citizens event.

With just a week to go until the 5 May election, the Labour candidate said he would be the type of Mayor London "needs" and that the city's wealth meant it could settle far more people.

Speaking at the London Citizens’ Mayoral Accountability Assembly event, Khan and his Conservative counterpart Goldsmith were addressed by young refugees, with some asking for citizenship in "emotional" scenes that raised huge cheers from the audience.

The assembly, organised by community and faith groups, took place in front of 6,000 voters from every borough in London.

Khan stressed the fact that he had voted in favour of resettling 3,000 child refugees, in a proposed amendment to the Immigration Bill that was defeated by Tory MPs on Monday.

"I voted in favour for resettling 3000 Syrian children. That's the type of mayor we need," Khan said.

In comparison, Goldsmith had voted against the amendment, prompting disappointment from some viewers:

During the debate - at the Copper Box Arena where the London 2012 Olympic boxing matches were held - young refugees and migrants also took the mic to ask if they could be given UK citizenship, to "huge applause" according to one observer.

One girl said she had lived in the UK since she was two years old, but was sent to a detention centre aged 15, because she was not born in Britain.

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Zac Goldsmith at the London Citizens event.

Goldsmith agreed that the Government's commitment to take in refugees had not been fully acted upon, and committed to help settle more people in London.

The group, which chose its demands through a democratic vote, is asking the next Mayor of London to appoint someone whose role would include encouraging new Londoners' participation in civic life and ensuring the capital resettles its "fair share of refugees" - 10 families per borough per year over 5 years.

Goldsmith also committed to introducing a Deputy Mayor for Citizenship and Integration - one of the demands the London Citizen's group has lobbied for - to address problems with the visa system.

The group, which chose its demands through a democratic vote, is asking the next Mayor of London to appoint someone whose role would include encouraging new Londoners' participation in civic life and ensuring the capital resettles its "fair share of refugees" - 10 families per borough per year over 5 years.

Goldsmith and Khan were also asked to publicly respond to demands around the London Living Wage, jobs for young people, and housing.

London Citizens spoke to tens of thousands of people, over 200 faith institutions, workplaces, community associations and educational establishments in the city, to build a 'housing manifesto' which it put to Goldsmith and Khan, as well as a set of other 'asks'. 

Khan adopted the London Citizens’ Good Development Standard to support the building of more genuinely affordable homes.

Goldsmith agreed to back the group's recommendation to make more Greater London Authority suppliers pay the London Living Wage. 

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