Britain will not participate in an EU wide scheme to help share responsibility for protecting refugees arriving in Europe, the Home Secretary Theresa May has confirmed.
The Home Secretary instead said the focus should be on returning ‘illegal economic migrants’.
Such a focus deliberately ignores the fact that Europe is faced by a refugee crisis, not one of illegal economic migration.
Of the nearly 500,000 people who have arrived in Europe via sea so far this year, the UN’s Refugee Agency UNHCR has said that 84% are from the world’s top 10 refugee producing countries.
It’s vital the British Government stands in solidarity with other European countries by volunteering to help share responsibility for protecting some of the refugees arriving on Europe’s shores. Britain cannot leave refugees to camp on Europe’s beaches.
Tomorrow European leaders will meet to discuss the crisis further. It’s vital that the Prime Minister steps up and pledges that Britain will do its bit to help. We can’t pretend this isn’t our problem.
The Refugee Council believes Britain should be especially looking to help refugees relocate refugees in Europe living in precarious situations who have family members in the UK to come and join them.
Britain should also be giving refugees other options so they aren’t forced into the hands of smugglers, left with no choice other than to dice with death on the Mediterranean as they desperately search for safety.
Instead, we must give refugees alternative, legal routes to safety – by doing things like letting refugees outside of Europe join their family members who are already living in safety inside of Europe. We could also issue humanitarian visas so refugees are able to travel here safely.
The announcement that Britain will resettle 20,000 Syrian refugees is a welcome first step, but we need to do much, much more to help.
Refugee Council Chief Executive Maurice Wren said: “It’s extremely disappointing that Britain has so far chosen to side step its responsibility to help protect some of the refugees arriving in Europe.
“The Prime Minister must demonstrate real leadership by putting aside domestic political concerns and proving he will not turn his back while refugees are met by closed borders, barbed wire fences and tear gas. He must respond compassionately and collaboratively to ensure that refugees arriving in Europe are provided with the protection they so desperately need.”
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