Refugees will not disappear whatever the Brexit vote outcome – charity

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With the EU referendum falling smack in the middle of international Refugee Week, RT examines Britain’s commitment to the world’s displaced people and the likely shifts in migration policy if the ‘Leave’ camp wins.

The UN estimates there are more than 65 million displaced persons across the world. Half of them are children, who often face the most difficulties as refugees. 

The search for safety and prosperity has prompted hundreds of thousands to flee to Europe from troubled Middle Eastern and African states, and ultimately look to cross into Britain where many have family and share English as a second language.

The EU handling of the migrant crisis has formed a major contributing factor in rising Euroskepticism.

UKIP leader Nigel Farage publicly shared his contempt for the crisis just last week while presenting a Vote Leave poster featuring a mass of refugees and the words “Breaking Point.”

Arguing “the EU has failed us all,” Farage emphasizing the UK must “take back control” of its borders. 

The result of Thursday’s referendum could well prove vital in determining the fate of current and future refugees coming to the UK.

The European refugee deal struck to restricting the arrival of refugees from Turkey, has drawn President Erdogan closer to EU membership. Euroskeptics warn the move will allow a mass of Turkish migration into Europe and the UK.

Freedom of movement within the EU amid the refugee crisis has seen Britain step up border security, while trying to be seen to be doing humanitarian work. 

Last year, the British government launched the Syrian Vulnerable Person Resettlement scheme – a promise to grant 20,000 Syrian refugees entry into the UK by 2020. But relative to the scale of the issue, the commitment amounts to just a drop in the ocean.

The Refugee Council remains hopeful of being able to extend a helping hand to asylum seekers irrespective of continued ties with the EU.

“Now more than ever, as refugees continue to seek protection in Europe, it’s vital that we welcome them to the UK,” said Maurice Wren, Chief Executive of the Refugee Council and Chair of Refugee Week.

“For 18 years Refugee Week has been a moment when we celebrate both the contribution that refugees make to Britain, and the generosity of Britons who have given them a warm welcome,” he said.

Stephen Hale, Chief Executive of Refugee Action, believes that either outcome of the referendum will not and should not affect the plight of refugees adversely, and should rather be used to motivate the government to renew their efforts for refugee aid. 

“The approach we need to take to persuade the British public and government that Britain should play a full part in responding to the global refugee crisis are similar whether we vote to Leave or Remain. Britain has long been exempt from most collective EU action on refugees,” he said on his blog.

Meanwhile, Asylum Aid are not happy with refugees being used as targets by referendum campaigns to make their case.

“It is deeply troubling that the EU referendum debate has descended in some parts to such a divisive and xenophobic tone. Both sides have been guilty of weaponizing refugees, presenting them as a ‘threat’ to the UK when nothing could be further from the truth,” it said.

Similar to other refugee support organizations, Asylum Aid says the UK’s move to support refugees should not be hindered by its dealings with the EU.

“The desperate men, women and children in Turkey, Greece and Calais will not disappear in either case and nor will our long-term need to cooperate with the other rich democratic nations of the world to provide them with credible, humane solutions,” a spokesperson for the charity told RT. 

“The atmosphere [of] hysteria and half-truths we have seen as part of this referendum debate will only make the task of adequately managing the refugee crisis more difficult.”