Refugee Council responds to channel crossing news

By agency reporter
January 3, 2019

Responding to the news of adults and children crossing the Channel in small boats, Maurice Wren, Chief Executive of the Refugee Council said: “The fact that people are boarding flimsy boats to cross one of the world’s busiest and most dangerous shipping lanes highlights the sense of fear and hopelessness that is gripping so many of the people stuck in Northern France. Recent reports suggest that armed police are forcibly clearing and levelling the makeshift camps along the French coast with the entirely predictable consequence that desperate people are again turning to smugglers who they see as offering their only hope of reaching safety.

"It is vital that all Governments in Europe work together to ensure that people do not feel forced to take such extreme and desperate risks. In the UK we need to offer more legal and dependable routes by which people can reach safety and be reunited with their loved ones here. This requires us to welcome many more of the Dubs children currently languishing and at prey to hideous exploitation in Europe, as well as widening the definition of family members eligible to reunite under Refugee Family Reunion rules, so that people are not forced to risk their lives in order to join their kith and kin in safety.”

On 2 January 2019 Home Secretary Sajid Javid made several comments on the Channel migrantswhich the Refugee Council said were "deeply concerning". Dr Lisa Doyle, Director of Advocacy at the Refugee Council, said: "The outcome of an asylum application cannot be pre-judged before it has been made and must be processed on its individual merit, irrespective of how that person reached the country. Let us not forget that we are talking about people who are in desperate need of protection, having fled countries with prolific human rights abuses. What is more, we are hearing time and again that the conditions in France do not make people feel safe, with migrant camps being razed from the ground and people experiencing violence from the authorities. It’s a shame that the Home Secretary seems to need reminding that seeking asylum is a right and the UK has an obligation to assess claims fairly and grant protection to those who need it. "

The Refugee Council continues to call on the Government to allow more refugees to find protection in the UK through safe and regular routes by:

  • Expanding the UK’s Refugee Family Reunion rules to allow more people to be reunited in safety in the UK
  • Making a long term commitment to refugee resettlement beyond 2020
  • Introducing humanitarian visas so that people do not have to make dangerous journeys to the UK in order to apply for asylum
  • Ensuring that, in line with the spirit of the Dubs amendment, many more of the thousands of young vulnerable refugees languishing and open to exploitation in Europe, are welcomed to the UK where we know they will be well looked after.

* Refugee Council


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