David Cameron’s visit to Lebanon 'cheap PR stunt'

British Prime Minister David Cameron talks at a news conference during his visit at the government palace in downtown Beirut, Lebanon September 14, 2015. © Mohamed Azakir
The Syrian crisis has been used as a playground for different superpowers and regional players to flex their muscles, while the plight of the people has been ignored, says Dilly Hussain Deputy Editor of the British Muslim news website '5Pillars UK.

RT: The UK Prime Minister travelled to Lebanon to hear from refugees there. But if he wanted to find out what asylum seekers need, why isn't he asking those practically at his doorstep in Calais? Would it have been a shorter trip?

Dilly Hussain: That’s a fair point you made there, because Syrian refugees are right at the doorsteps in Calais, in Germany, in Austria and all scattered around Europe. So, it doesn’t really make sense to me why Mr. Cameron would have to travel all the way to Lebanon to see several refugees and to understand the situation and humanitarian crisis that is taking place. I mean, the Syrian refugee crisis has only increased, and only peaked over the past four years. Personally, the way I have interpreted Mr. Cameron’s visit to Lebanon, it appears to be a cheap PR stunt.

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RT: How come Britain only wants to take in refugees “directly from the region” and not people who are already in Europe? What's the point in picking and choosing asylum seekers?

DH: I guess there are two points to understand this. First and foremost, there may be some kind of underlying suspicion that those who are trying to enter Europe and England are actually not legitimate asylum seekers or refugees. That’s the narrative that is being peddled by the right-wing press here in the UK. And there are, in fact, illegal immigrants who are looking for work and to reap the benefits from our welfare system. I don’t know if that could be actually empirically or factually substantiated. Secondly, I think there is also a case of Mr. Cameron trying to prolong the time. I mean, we know very well that he first agreed to take in 3,000 and then when the body of the young Syrian child Aylan Kurdi [was seen], he then agreed to take 20,000 when the quota was far higher than that. So, I think what he is trying to do here is prolong the time where he can easily take in a number of Syrian refugees by visiting Lebanon, by picking and choosing is allowing him time to basically not do anything about it.

RT: The migrants stuck in Calais believe they've been forgotten by the authorities. Do you think that's the case?

DH: I’m going to personally visit Calais… to deliver some aid with an aid convoy, so I properly understand the situation there. I’m getting different reports from on the ground from aid charities and activists on the ground. And what they’re saying is that those who are stuck in Calais have been sort of stranded, whereas other refugees and asylum seekers around Europe have been given more attention. But the way I see it, the hundreds of thousands have entered Europe and the millions that are in Turkey, Lebanon, and the surrounding Arab states, they’ve all been abandoned, they have all been ignored. Their plight and their hardship has been holistically ignored by the whole international community. So, I wouldn’t necessarily pinpoint those refugees in Calais per se. I say Syrian refugees and the Syrian crisis in and of itself has been largely ignored, has been used as a playground for different superpowers and regional players to flex their muscles. But the actual plight of the Syrian people has been ignored.


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