The Refugee Crisis and the UK’s Response

The existence of large numbers of refugees is not new. However the present scale of forced displacement of people is often described as unprecedented. It is estimated that there are currently over 65 million people across the globe who have had to flee their homes. The statistics in this section are taken from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees http://www.unhcr.org/uk/figures-at-a-glance.html and Refugee Council https://www.refugeecouncil.org.uk/20facts

Most refugees flee to neighbouring countries, not to Europe. The UNHCR estimates that almost 9/10 of the world’s refugees are living in developing countries. One in six of the population of Lebanon is a refugee (2016 figures). By contrast Britain is home to less than 1% of the world’s refugees. It is a myth to suggest that Europe is bearing the brunt of the refugee crisis.  It isn’t.

Even so large numbers do attempt the hazardous journey to Europe as demonstrated by the shocking scenes of unsafe overloaded boats attempting the Mediterranean Sea crossing. Many desperate people arrive daily in Italy and Greece, and are unable to get any further into Europe. This is made worse by the operation of the EU ‘Dublin Convention’, which generally requires refugees to claim asylum in the first safe European country they reach. Britain has not helped with the resettlement of refugees arriving in Italy and Greece, rather it has returned asylum seekers to both countries. In general there has been no united European approach to resolving the refugee crisis.

The view of the British Government is that providing refuge to asylum seekers already in Europe will provide a perverse incentive for people to make the hazardous crossing into Europe and will encourage people trafficking. However people trafficking is unfortunately inevitable when there are no safe routes for refugees to take when they feel compelled to flee danger and seek refuge. Several national organisations, particularly Safe Passage, has been campaigning for safe and legal routes out of danger for refugees http://safepassage.org.uk/

LOSRAS shares the view of many that Britain is not doing enough to help resolve the current crisis and supports campaigns to increase the number of asylum seekers entering Britain and to improve the current asylum process.