UK faces fresh calls to help migrants

Written by Liam Kirkaldy on 17 June 2015 in News

UK Government faces fresh calls from UNCHR to help migrants fleeing across Mediterranean

David Cameron is facing fresh calls to help migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean, and work with the EU to find a solution to the growing crisis.

Speaking at a Scottish Parliament reception organised by the Scottish Refugee Council, UNHCR Representative to the UK Gonzalo Vargas Llosa warned that the numbers fleeing conflict zones in countries like Syria was increasing and that more must be done.

It came as Scottish Refugee Council chief executive John Wilkes welcomed the efforts made by the Scottish Government to help migrants.

Vargas Llosa said: “We are seeing increasing numbers of refugees embarking on dangerous journeys, putting their lives in the hands of smugglers and on rickety boats trying to reach safety in Europe. They are fleeing countries in conflict such as Syria, where the war has entered its fifth year with no sign of resolution in sight.  That is why people are risking their lives, because they feel they have no alternative.”

“One safe and legal way for refugees to access safety is via resettlement. I welcome the UK's contribution to offering resettlement places, however, the needs are enormous. There is a rapidly growing gap between the places states have committed to and the number of Syrians displaced outside their country, which now stands at almost 4 million.”

The European Commission has recently proposed resettlement programmes for EU members states, which would resettle 40,000 asylum seekers over two years. The UK is being asked to resettle 2,309 of this number.  

EU leaders will meet to discuss the crisis on 25 and 26 June. 

In 2014 Germany received six times more number of asylum applications than the UK, Sweden received three times the number, and Italy and France received double.

Wilkes said: “We acknowledge positive statements from the Scottish Government and Scottish MPs at Westminster about Scotland willing to play its part in offering safety and welcome to those in peril.”

“We welcome the leadership that the UK Government has shown on the reintroduction of a search and rescue operation in the Mediterranean to help save lives; and the support which its aid programme provides to refugees in the region.”

“However, the Prime Minister needs to do much more to create safe and legal routes to allow refugees to enter the UK, and to prevent the need for many people to attempt the dangerous crossing in the first place. This includes making it easier for refugees to reunite with their relatives in the UK and increasing the number of people able to resettle in the UK.”

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