International Migrants Day – Birmingham’s continuing commitment as a City of Sanctuary

Ahead of International Migrants Day, Cllr John Cotton looks at how Birmingham continues to honour its commitments as a City of Sanctuary, following Cabinet’s approval of plans to resettle 220 Afghan refugees.

As a city, Birmingham is rightly proud of the warm welcome it extends to all those – often fleeing war or persecution -  who arrive looking to start a new life here.

We formally declared ourselves as a City of Sanctuary in 2015, and welcomed the first people just before Christmas through the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement scheme.

Six years on and more than 500 refugees from Syria now call Birmingham ‘home’ – this is the third highest figure for a resettlement programme by any local authority in the UK.

Back in May, we committed to welcoming 80 individuals via the Afghan Relocation and Assistance Programme and so far 58 people have arrived in Birmingham, some families with young children, who are now able to enjoy being safe and secure in new homes this Christmas.

Everyone deserves a safe home and Birmingham has a long history of being a city where many different communities have successfully settled and made enormous contributions to our cultural and economic life.

The crisis in Afghanistan and subsequent emergency evacuation resulted in the Home Office setting up the Afghan Citizen Resettlement Scheme, ACRS.

Yesterday (14 December) Cabinet approved plans to welcome of a further 110 people per year for the next two years (2022/23 and 2023/24) as part of the Government’s fully funded resettlement schemes.

This programme is similar to the Syrian scheme, so all the excellent learning, experience and productive partnership working from that can be put to use to successfully resettle the new arrivals.

The council’s Refugee and Migration team will be working with local third sector partners to welcome these refugees in the New Year and will support them as they build new lives here.

This welcome to Afghan refugees shows our continued commitment to our City of Sanctuary status which Birmingham will be renewing in 2022.  

Saturday is International Migrants Day and as a City of Sanctuary we celebrate the role migrants, and refugees have always played in the story of Birmingham.  We are such a vibrant and exciting city because of our long history of welcoming migrants both from Europe and the wider world.

Today (15 December) our Refugees and Migration Team will be hosting a virtual Birmingham Migration Forum meeting which will include a talk by local historian Professor Carl Chinn, about the contributions made by migrant communities to the city’s economy and workplaces.

To celebrate International Migrants Day why not watch this great short film called  ‘A Day Without Migrants’ that imagines a typical city if migrants disappeared .

For details of related events and how you can get involved, please visit:


Cllr John Cotton is Cabinet Member for Social Inclusion, Community Safety and Equalities.

This post was published on 15 December 2021

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