Amnesty: Shouldn’t take a photo of dead refugee child ‘to make politicians do the right thing’

© Dimitris Michalakis
Allowing some refugees into Britain is a positive move, but it should not have taken a photo of a dead refugee child to create interest in the plight of displaced people, according to Steve Symonds, Amnesty International UK’s refugee expert.

It shouldn’t have taken a photograph to get politicians to start to do the right thing, but this news offers a vital lifeline to thousands of Syrians,” Symonds said in a post on Amnesty’s website.

He acknowledged that the move, however belated, could be a positive one if “acted upon urgently.

His comments come as parliament meets to debate the refugee crisis following a petition on accepting displaced people attracted more than 430,000 signatures.

Symonds warned the proposed plan to take 20,000 refugees from Syria by 2020 “does not address the huge challenge facing Europe right now – countries like Greece and Hungary cannot cope alone.

Nor does it offer a solution to the many Eritreans, Afghans and others, forced to flee bullets, bombs, torture and overcrowded refugee camps elsewhere.

The proper response, Symonds said, must be far wider than just taking refugees and must address the crisis as a whole using a “comprehensive” response.

We all need to acknowledge there is no single measure that can immediately solve the current crisis, and no one country can achieve its resolution all by itself,” he said.

So far the UK has been unwilling to share responsibility for refugees arriving in Europe. This position undermines efforts to secure a comprehensive response – saving lives, tackling people smuggling and resolving conflicts and other crises at the heart of this exodus.

During Tuesday’s parliamentry debate, Labour’s Yvette Cooper, who in recent weeks has been a vocal advocate of Britain taking in refugees, called for Cameron to reconsider his plan to limit Britain to taking 20,000 Syrians.

“The prime minister has rightly changed his mind already in response to the public concern. I ask him to do so again,” Cooper said.

UKIP leader Nigel Farage was quick to weigh in on the government’s plans, telling CNBC on Tuesday it was wrong to be swayed by the public outcry over refugee deaths.

READ MORE: ‘Moral responsibility’? Refugee children accepted under Cameron’s scheme to be expelled at 18 – MP

Social media may scream that we should be doing more but the vast majority of public opinion says that until we get a grip on current immigration levels, we’re in no position to do anything more substantial in terms of refugees,” he said.

Farage also raised the issue of security, saying Islamic State (formerly ISIS/ISIL) had pledged to send terrorists to the UK.
When ISIS say they will flood the UK with half a million of their own jihadist fighters, I suggest we listen to them,” he said.