Friday, February 24, 2017

Helping Refugees

Just wrote an article for a local newspaper which reflects on the problems faced by the movement of peoples from troubled parts of the world, and how I think British Govt should respond. As follows....

"The issue that currently causes me most concern as an MP is the humanitarian refugee crisis facing much of our world as a result of conflict. Some of these conflicts cause huge increases in the movement of people away from problem hotspots, attracted by promises (invariably false) of a better world elsewhere. These promises usually turn out to be empty and dangerous.

Even though the scale of warfare in our world continues to fall, modern means of communication, carried on comparatively inexpensive mobile technology, greatly worsens the refugee crisis. It's only going to get worse. It's inevitable that there will be hundreds of millions of people fleeing the brutality of terrorists and drought. 

There has been much publicity and campaigning to allow refugees from fellow EU countries into Britain. Many constituents have written to me, supporting this course of action. I have resisted this, simply because I cannot accept it is the most effective way to help. I have always believed that the UK should take in more refugees than we have done, or have promised to do, but it should always be from where we can have the best humanitarian impact. We should be guided by the scale of disaster and our capacity to help rather by what our media covers. The BBC gives most coverage to where it can safely take its cameras.

This week, I met with former East Enders star Ross Kemp, who has created a very powerful film outlining the position in Libya. Libya is on the point of being a 'failed state' where there is no government. It's being run by war lords on a tribal structure. Human rights do not exist. The status of women is particularly awful. Into this environment step traffickers, promising transfer to Europe in return for all of their money. They are then put into unseaworthy boats and sent out to the Med. If they progress out of Libyan waters, they often sink. No-one knows about them. If caught in Libyan waters they are dumped on the border.

This lawlessness may well lead to Nigeria, where the population is over 100,000,000. About ten million Syrians have been displaced during the current conflict. Many have died, or been killed by Assad or Russian forces. After meetings with activists who know the area, I became convinced that every penny that Britain can contribute should go to where the need is greatest. That is the most humanitarian response."

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