‘Take more refugees,’ UN tells British political parties
Writing in the Times, Gonzalo Vargas Llosa, the UNHCR representative to the UK, said Britain should “do the right thing” to support vulnerable people fleeing persecution from their home country and take in 10,000 more refugees on top of those it has already pledge to resettle.
“This would be a meaningful but realistic increase over the existing commitment, made in 2015, to receive 20,000 Syrians and 3,000 children at risk by 2020, welcome though that is,” he said.
The pledge to take in 20,000 by 2020 was first made by former Prime Minister David Cameron in 2015.
Llosa said committing to resettle an extra 10,000 a year is a “relatively modest” request, which the UK could satisfy if current refugee schemes are revised.
The UNHCR representative to the UK also slammed the “strikingly high” amount of refugees and asylum seekers detained in the UK. Up to 13,000 were recorded in 2016 alone.
“Being detained can leave psychological scars that endure years after release,” Llosa said.
“This problem is exacerbated by the deeply worrying fact that Britain currently has no time limit on immigration detention.
“The cost of maintaining such a sizeable detention system is also extremely high.”
Llosa also urged the PM to relax regulations that separate refugees from their families, as he claimed it stands in their way of integrating into society.
“I have met countless refugees who suffer unnecessarily as a result of being separated from close family members.
“For many refugees, the pain of separation remains the biggest obstacle to their successful integration in a new country,” Llosa said.
Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron echoed Llosa’s view, saying Britain could do much more to aid refugees.
“Refugees are some of the most vulnerable people in any society,” Farron according to the Times.
“They have fled violence and persecution. They are homeless and stateless.
“They are completely reliant on the hospitality of host nations and under-funded refugee agencies to protect them.
“Britain can and must do more,” he remarked.
However, Robert Goodwill, the Tory immigration minister, said Britain has a “proud tradition” of supporting refugees.
Llosa’s call follows Home Secretary Amber Rudd’s announcement in February that the government would scrap the Dubs Amendment and scale down the amount of child refugees being resettled to Britain from 3,000 to 350.
She argued the scheme should be scrapped because it acts as a “pull factor” for traffickers seeking to smuggle vulnerable children into the UK.
However, Amnesty International UK said Rudd’s argument could not be “further from the truth.”
“By shutting off this lifeline to vulnerable young people living in precarious, unsafe and freezing conditions in camps, abandoned buildings and on the streets of towns and cities across Europe, she has in fact forced thousands of vulnerable girls and boys straight into the hands of traffickers,” Amnesty said on its blogs page.