Local politicians call for visa extensions for Turkish nationals following quake

North London leaders say government should extend visas for Turkish and Syrian nationals on compassionate grounds, reports Julia Gregory, Local Democracy Reporter

The aftermath of the earthquake in Turkey (credit VOA-Wikimedia Commons)
The aftermath of the earthquake in Turkey (credit VOA-Wikimedia Commons)

North London political leaders are urging the government to take urgent action over visas for people from Turkey and Syria affected by last month’s earthquakes.

Enfield Council’s cabinet member for community safety, Gina Needs, is among the politicians calling on Home Secretary Suella Braverman to urgently allow visa extension applications from Turkish and Syrian nationals in the UK on compassionate grounds – for  people whose visa is set to expire but are unable to go home because of the disaster.

They also want the government to speed up decisions for those waiting to enter the UK and set up a programme of temporary visas, which could be time-limited for those affected by the disaster.

Islington Council leader Kaya Comer-Schwartz said: “The UK could play its part in supporting a region that is suffering so much right now and our community can try to be reunited with their loved ones.”

Enfield, Haringey, Islington and Hackney boroughs all have large Turkish, Kurdish and Syrian communities with many people who have been left bereaved by the earthquakes and are fundraising to support relief work.

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Others have family and friends ”left without shelter or supplies and need urgent assistance” and they are desperate about their welfare.

The letter, which was also signed by Haringey Council leader Peray Ahmet and Hackney mayor Philip Glanville along with other senior colleagues, describes the “heartwarming” response from the community in North London.

They said: “People in our boroughs are determined to help in any way we can right now and we urge the government to open up our country to those in need.

“Our boroughs has a long history of welcoming those in need. Many are working towards becoming boroughs of sanctuary and local people opened their homes last year to those affected by the war in Ukraine. As we are now seeing another humanitarian emergency unfold, we are keen to help in any way we can.

“There could be millions of people displaced by the tragedy and it will be a long time before their homes, villages and communities are rebuilt.”

At a recent vigil held outside Islington Town Hall, Islington North MP Jeremy Corbyn criticised the government for being slow to act over visas for those affected by the disaster.

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