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UK refugee proposal criticised

Christian Aid has criticised the UK Prime Minister Theresa May for her government’s approach to control the movement of refugees globally, which the charity says puts the interests of rich countries first, while ignoring the needs of millions of people displaced

Syria refugees crossing into T

Speaking at Monday’s UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants, Mrs May warned the UN general assembly of the ‘dangers of uncontrolled mass migration’ and called for an international agreement to force refugees to stay in the first ‘safe country’ they arrive in.

She argued that the current trend of onward movement exposed refugees and migrants to increased danger and benefited criminal gangs, as well as reducing popular support for refugees. 

However, Christian Aid believes this approach places an unfair burden on the poorer countries currently taking in the majoirty of refugees. 'Eighty six per cent of the world’s refugees are hosted in poor countries so they should be in the driving seat in deciding how to handle the world’s worst refugee crisis in 70 years,' said Tom Viita, Senior Political Advisor at Christian Aid. 'It is disappointing to hear Theresa May and other European leaders proposing to shift an even greater burden onto poor countries. This is not in the interests of those countries, or refugees themselves.

'May’s proposal for refugees to be hosted in the first ‘safe country’ they arrive in would trap even more people into degrading and inhumane living conditions in refugee camps. Furthermore, it reduces the possibilities for separated families to reunite.
'The UK is among the most respected international donors to help refugees, and could use its position of leadership to drive a genuinely compassionate and fair response. Yet it should not be misusing aid to prop up a discredited international system that burdens poor countries far too much. The UK should work with other countries to design a fairer system that creates long-lasting solutions for millions of people in need.'

The UN estimates that 65.3 million people were either refugees, asylum seekers or internally displaced at the end of 2015.
The international development charity welcomed Theresa May’s call for all countries to bear their share of responsibility for helping refugees. To that end, Christian Aid is urging rich nations to increase refugee resettlement and drastically reform the way refugee aid to poor countries who shoulder the responsibility is financed.

The Summit is expected to kick-start a two-year process for a new “Global Compact” for people on the move, to be finalised by September 2018. On Tuesday President Obama will host a pledging conference to ensure quicker action is taken to meet people’s needs now.

Christian Aid is urging the UK government to attend the summit and pledge to host higher numbers of refugees by:

  •         Resettling higher numbers of refugees, broadening the nationalities it resettles, and significantly accelerating the resettlement of the 20,000 Syrians the UK government has already agreed to accept in the UK; 
  •         Introducing a system of humanitarian visas to the UK, including via third countries; 
  •         Strengthening and implementing adequate measures for family reunification; 
  •         Acting on its responsibilities to relocate refugees already in the EU. 

Picture: Syrian Kurdish refugees cross into Turkey from Syria, near the town of Kobani. I. Prickett/UNHCR/IRIN

Baptist Times, 20/09/2016
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