UK must provide safe entry for refugees

Saturday 21st August 2021 10:35 am

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In July a new daily record of people crossing the channel into the UK was recorded. The Home Office reported 430 people made the crossing on a single day, the previous daily high was 416, from September 2020.

So far this year more than 8,500 people have made the crossing. Every day many more people take the decision to put their lives at risk by attempting the journey across the channel.

Despite there being no official record of the number of people who have died making the trip, estimates from media reports and other public records put the number at almost 300 since 1999.

The latest negative media coverage of the so-called migrant crisis, was criticism aimed at the RNLI for helping to rescue people crossing the channel and bringing them to safety on UK shores.

The RNLI hit back at such criticism, by saying they have a moral and legal responsibility to rescue people at risk of drowning, regardless of who they are, or where they came from.

Volunteer lifesavers have told harrowing stories of those they have rescued recently. The general public clearly have sympathy with the RNLI and support their efforts, this was shown by donations to the charity rising 3,000% and applications to volunteer quadrupling.

The UK government has for a long time created a hostile environment for any migrants in, or wanting to enter the UK. The measures used to deter those thinking of coming to the UK include limiting access to housing, healthcare, work and even bank accounts.

When migrants enter the country they are taken to detention centres where they are held until asylum applications are processed, if unsuccessful they can be deported.

There is no time limit on how long you can be detained. Immigration removal centres have been criticised for their poor and prison-like conditions.

The Government is now attempting to further this hostile environment. The new immigration bill would make it a criminal offence to knowingly arrive in the UK without permission.

The bill would also give powers to border officers to turn migrant boats crossing the channel back towards France and use reasonable force if necessary, this type of legislation is now possible in post-brexit Britain.

This is yet another attempt to make it harder for people fleeing war and persecution to reach a safe haven.

As a country we should be welcoming our fair share of refugees, who in some instances are fleeing wars in which the UK has been involved.

The current situation in Afghanistan and the inevitable displacement of citizens will need countries across the world to take humanitarian action, rather than military action which has been the prefered option in the past.

The UK must be willing to allow safe and open entry to those displaced by conflict, especially conflicts in which our military have been involved.

Other countries have done just that already. Nations should work together to create peace across the world, rather than waging war.

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