Thursday, November 25, 2021

Fortress UK


It was a disaster waiting to happen. The drowning of 27 refugees who were attempting to reach the UK across the English Channel in a flimsy inflatable was avoidable unnecessary and predictable. The media prefers to describe them as migrants, not refugees seeking asylum and sanctuary.

The British and French governments place the blame on one another and both countries will accuse the gangs of people-smugglers as the direct cause of the tragedy.  And we will watch both nations politicians shed crocodile tears as they prepare stringent plans that will most likely bring yet another calamity with their enforcement.  We heard the sanctimonious fake sympathy in 2020, when a family of five Iraqi Kurds perished crossing the Channel with the body of their 15-month-old baby, Artin, washing up in Norway months later.

“To accuse only the smugglers is to hide the responsibility of the French and British authorities,” said l’Auberge des Migrants, an advocacy group that supports refugees and displaced people.

Describing the latest deaths as "truly heartbreaking", the British Red Cross called on the UK government to make it easier, not harder, to claim asylum in the UK.

Mike Adamson, the organisation's chief executive, said in a statement that "nobody puts their life at risk unless they are absolutely desperate and feel they have no other options".

 Zoe Gardener from the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants told the BBC that although the UK is a "compassionate country", it's also a rich, powerful and stable place that is "very able to offer protection to lots more refugees than we currently do".

Clare Moseley of the charity Care4Calais explained that the migrants lost their lives seeking a better future for themselves in the UK.

"Part of the worst thing for us is that every single one of those people who are refugees by definition has already suffered something horrific whether they've been through conflict, torture, persecution," she says. "The thought that somebody could escape from something really terrible, could go through hell, travel an immense journey of thousands of miles, to die at our border," she adds. "When they've come here seeking safety, they've come here seeking our help, the scale of the tragedy - that it's here that they die - is quite overwhelming."

Enver Solomon, the chief executive of the Refugee Council, said: “How many tragedies like this must we see before the government fundamentally changes its approach by committing to an ambitious expansion of safe routes for those men, women and children in desperate need of protection? Every day, people are forced to flee their homes through no fault of their own. Now is the time to end the cruel and ineffective tactic of seeking to punish or push away those who try and find safety in our country.”

Tom Davies, Amnesty International UK’s refugee and migrant rights campaign manager, asked: “How many more times must we see people lose their life trying to reach safety in the UK because of the woeful lack of safe means to do so?"

Beth Gardiner-Smith, CEO of Safe Passage International, said: The tragic truth is that these deaths could – and should - have been prevented. No one should have to risk their life to reach safety. Every day, men, women and children are having to make extraordinary efforts to reach safety, sanctuary and loved ones here in the UK because there is no other way. To prevent a repeat of this tragedy, refugees urgently need safe routes to reach their loved ones, find refuge and have the chance to rebuild their lives." She continued, "More and more people are risking the freezing, frightening journey across the Channel in small, unstable boats since the Government closed safe routes to the UK last year. Choosing to play politics with people’s lives, the Government has failed to prevent people risking the crossing and this is the result. The Government must act now to save lives by opening safe routes to the UK, and scrap their unworkable plans in the Nationality and Borders Bill which will only make the situation worse."

Pierre Roques, coordinator of the Auberge des Migrants NGO in Calais, said the Channel risked becoming as deadly for refugees as the Mediterranean which has seen a much heavier toll over the last years of migrants crossing, AFP reports.“People are dying in the Channel, which is becoming a cemetery. And as England is right opposite, people will continue to cross.”


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