Humanitarian crisis in Europe and the Mediterraean

I have received a number of emails from constituents who are concerned about the humanitarian crisis in Europe and the Mediterranean.

Like many people I was shocked by the photograph of Aylan Kurdi’s body washed up on the beach, and deeply saddened by his story. His family fled from war torn Syria and wished to move on after living in Turkey for three years, to seek asylum in Canada. The case underlines the terror of the Syrian civil war and the criminal practices of the people smugglers organising the dangerous boat trips.

The Prime Minister has made clear that he too was greatly saddened by this case. He is planning to do more to help Syrian refugees and to tackle criminal gangs of people smugglers who put migrant and asylum seeker lives at risk. He has told us there is no simple or easy solution to this crisis. A long term solution will only be possible if peace and stability can brought to the Middle East and Africa. A comprehensive solution will require actions to resolve the problems in Syria.

The UK has been at the forefront of international diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis in Syria. The Foreign Secretary, Phillip Hammond has repeatedly called for President, Bashar al-Assad to step down to allow a political transition. The UK has been working with other countries to impose unilateral and bilateral sanctions on the regime in Syria. These include a travel ban and an asset freeze on specified Syrian officials. The government is also assisting the international effort to impede and challenge the brutal ISIL insurgency.

In addition, the Government is already acting to assist refugees from Syria. The UK has allocated £900 million since 2012 to meet needs of people in Syria and refugees in the region – the largest UK response to a humanitarian crisis. The money has gone to some 30 partners such the UN’s World Food Programme and the Red Cross, which have been able – under extremely difficult conditions – to deliver food and water inside Syria.

Almost half of Britain’s aid money for the Syria crisis goes to Syria itself – £440 million. Lebanon has been allocated £211 million and Jordan £177 million. According to the Department for International Development, from February 2012 to March 2015, British aid has provided 13 million food rations to Syrians and supported 224,972 children in formal and informal education.

In Jordan, which is hosting 600,000 Syrian refugees (1/10th of Jordan’s population) UK aid money is providing food, water and shelter to people across the country, as well as supporting basic services, such as education and healthcare.

Justine Greening, the International Development Secretary, said in July: “Despite the difficult conditions they face, the many refugees I have met on my visits to the region say they just want to remain close to their homes. Our aid is helping those people – families whose normal lives have been turned upside down – cope with their shattered lives and stay safe.”

Alongside these efforts, the UK has also granted asylum to over 5,000 Syrians since 2011. This demonstrates that legal routes are available to refugees fleeing violence who are genuinely in need.

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5 Comments

  1. Horatio McSherry
    Posted September 4, 2015 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    John,

    Here, here! I appreciate it’s not my place to say, but perhaps you could make yourself available to the TV News channels to get this point across? At the moment, it isn’t.

    I don’t think there’s many people who weren’t heartbroken at seeing the photographs of that poor lad on the beach, I doubt he’s the only one who has died before he even knew who he was. There is a “however”, however. This has been hijacked by the media – in its entirety – and the political class to purposely confuse the two issues of migration and refugees and to emotionally blackmail the government to allow every man and his dog through the channel tunnel, and, to encourage everyone in north Africa to come here to England.

    We know the New Labour party want this to happen for sickening party political reasons, as they know African migrants will vote Labour when they are eligible. This is not just idle assumption either; my ex-girlfriend was from Kampala and she confirmed what many people think; that people are encourage to come to Britain through fake collages and that when they get here and become eligible to vote, that they must vote for the Labour party as they are “the party for the people”.

    The government must not fall into the trap of making decisions on emotion. It’s difficult, I know, but that’s why they get paid.

    • Horatio McSherry
      Posted September 4, 2015 at 11:22 am | Permalink

      * Fake colleges…not “collages”….pretty as they are 🙂

  2. lojolondon
    Posted September 4, 2015 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    John, I don’t think any sensible person would disagree with Nigel Farage on this issue. When there is a humanitarian crisis, send plenty of money, more that we do for targeted, short term emergencies. But when it comes to merely posting money overseas on a haphazard basis, eventually sending it to the EU in an effort to hit a target of wasting £12 Billion a year, that definitely needs to stop.

  3. lojolondon
    Posted September 4, 2015 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    Also – the PM has made a very grave mistake in promising to take thousands of refugees. The best thing we can do is promise not to take any illegals at any time, for any reason. That is the only way to stop the people smugglers and the deaths.
    BTW, they cynics will have noticed that in every picture of the refugees, males between the ages of 18-40 are the overwhelming majority, very few women and children. The Biased BBC does try to make it look like there are families, but watching any other news channel (with no axe to grind) the imbalance is obvious.

  4. alan jutson
    Posted September 4, 2015 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    Good to hear a balanced view of the facts, rather than the more one sided version offered by the media to date.

    I thought Mr Cameron in his speech this morning, vastly improved on the comments he made yesterday.

    The policy of us accepting Syrian refugees from the more local accredited camps, where proper verification can take place, and where genuine asylum seekers can be given official papers without them having to cross continents, where they put themselves in further danger and under the control of gangsters, must surely be a preferable solution to the chaos that is taking place at the moment.

    The UK and its people for decades has always given aid, and often accepted those into our Country who have been persecuted abroad, and it is insulting to us for other Countries who have done far less in the past, and indeed the present, to criticise us and our policies.

    The end solution has to be to resolve the crisis that is happening in North Africa and the Middle East, and in my view only the United Nations by the forming of a coalition of very many Countries, all working under the UN Flag (not their own National flags) stand a chance of doing so.
    I am aware the record of the UN is poor, but if only a few Countries get involved UK, USA, and one or two others, it would fail, and we as individual Countries would get blamed for that failure.

    My big fear is that many EU governments will simply take the quick option to move people on, and give all of these so called refugees, economic migrants and others, European papers without any form of checking of backgrounds, and they then will have every right to enter all Countries of the EU legally, and at will, making an absolute mockery of any so called Border controls.

    Clearly this is a desperate situation, but it is a situation which all Countries have to try and manage with hearts and minds, with an agreed policy in a cohesive and sensible manner, otherwise the chaos we have seen to date will continue to grow, and people who wish us harm, will take advantage of that a situation.

    Time for our Government to also accept those translators who helped us in Afghanistan, (and who are being hunted by our past enemies) into our Country, rather than abandoning them to certain torture and death.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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