We have all been deeply moved by the horrific and tragic images of the plight of the migrants seeking to flee their own countries and get into Europe. This was most stark with the front page image of three year old Aylan Kurdi who drowned after the boat he and his family were on capsized shortly after they departed Turkey. The images are truly shocking and extremely upsetting.
I have received literally hundreds of emails about this crisis and want to set out clearly my views on the situation.
I believe it is our moral imperative to accept more genuine refugees into the safety of the UK and last night (03/09/2015) I wrote to the Prime Minister to set out that view. As an immediate priority, I particularly want UK aid to focus on those in the most desperate need; families with young children, those who need urgent medical attention and those at the greatest risk of persecution in their own country.
The problem is, however, far more complicated than simply accepting more migrants into the UK and we must clearly distinguish between economic migrants and genuine refugees – they must be treated separately.
For many of the economic migrants, gangs are profiting from the misery of their fellow humans, selling them false promises before loading them on to dangerous vessels and sending them, in many cases, to their deaths.
There clearly needs to be a far more comprehensive response from European nations, and if we are to stop the flow, we must adopt the right approach. We cannot do anything which encourages more people to make these perilous journeys – or which makes it easier for the gangs responsible for their misery. There needs to be a long-term solution to these very complicated problems and simply accepting more and more migrants into the UK will not solve the root of the problem. An immediate response that exacerbates the situation may be counter-productive and will probably create further problems down the line. All responses must be carefully considered. This is why the UK has an aid budget of almost £12billion – we are the second largest aid donor in the world and why the UK has committed £900 million in aid to support refugees from Syria.
I am sure that, given the choice, most of these people would rather stay safely in their own country. Globally, we must do more to ensure that those regions are made safe and that we help enough people to remain in their own country to enable the rebuilding of these places. If we drain the countries of their young and vibrant populous, we create even more problems for those left behind.
Here is the text from that letter:
“Dear Prime Minister,
Together with the vast majority of my constituents, I have been deeply moved by the image of migrants and refugees fleeing their countries, particularly Syria.
I believe it is our moral imperative to accept more genuine refugees into the safety of the UK and as an immediate priority, I particularly want the UK to focus on those in the most desperate need; orphans, young children who have travelled without their parents, those who need urgent medical attention and those at the greatest risk of persecution if their remain in their own country.
I understand that this is a very complicated, long-running problem but I believe there must be a far more comprehensive response from European nations, and if we are to solve it, we must adopt the right approach. We cannot do anything which encourages more people to make these perilous journeys – or which makes it easier for the gangs responsible for their misery.
Thank you for your consideration of this request.
Michelle Donelan MP
Member of Parliament for Chippenham”