Pauline Latham OBE – Member of Parliament for Mid Derbyshire:
The present situation in the Mediterranean is intolerable. Gangs are profiting from the misery of their fellow humans, selling them false promises before loading them onto dangerous vessels and sending them, in many cases, to their deaths.
We have a proud history of offering asylum to those who need it and we also have one of the longest running and largest refugee resettlement schemes in the EU, in partnership with the UNHCR. We have been at the forefront of the international response to the humanitarian crisis in Syria – including as the second biggest bilateral donor of humanitarian aid, having already pledged £1bn. In addition to this financial support, we have granted protection to almost 5,000 Syrians through normal asylum procedures since the crisis began.
Recently, David Cameron announced that the UK will take in 20,000 refugees over the next five years from refugee camps bordering Syria. This will ensure that we are taking more refugees and the most vulnerable people, whilst not encouraging others to risk their lives crossing the sea and making perilous journeys.
The UK has sent the Royal Navy’s flagship, HMS Bulwark, along with three Merlin helicopters and two border patrol ships to help the situation in the Mediterranean. They have saved nearly 7000 lives.
The UK is playing a leading role in pushing for action through the EU and the UN to tackle the causes of migration. I believe we must focus on stabilising the countries from which the migrants are coming. This regional solution is the only sustainable way to prevent suffering and address the flow of migrants crossing continents, rather than relocating people to Europe.