As David Cameron announces that the UK will take up to 20,000 refugees from Syria over the next five years, the Island’s MP, Andrew Turner, agrees we have a clear moral obligation to help those most in need – in particular orphans and children who have become separated from their family – but says that we should cut the number of economic migrants we accept from other countries outside Europe, to balance things out.
Mr Turner said:
“It is a real, human tragedy that there are refugees who have been living in camps in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan for the past five years; there are one million in Lebanon alone. They are refugees, not economic migrants and it is only right we reach out to help them. I agree with the Prime Minister that we must discourage illegal gangs from trafficking desperate people who risk life and limb to get to Europe in unsuitable and unsafe boats or in the back of airless trucks. There have been too many deaths already.
“Giving sanctuary to refugees identified by the UNHCR (the United Nation’s Refugee Agency) is a sensible move. Eleven million Syrians have had to flee their homes because of the dreadful civil war – they cannot all move to Europe but they still need help. We are the second most generous country in the world (after the USA), in providing desperately needed aid in the region. We have given more than Germany, the Netherlands, France, Italy, Hungary, Austria and Poland combined.
“Whilst helping Syrians in genuine need, we must still do all we can to cut the number of economic migrants. We should make it clear that we must find a way of taking thousands fewer from elsewhere outside the EU. I wish we could control immigration from within Europe, but of course the EU has taken away our powers in this regard!”
A ComRes survey carried out for Newsnight this week found that public opinion is divided on whether Britain should take in more refugees. Forty per cent of people thought we should take more people into the country whilst 57% thought we already take the right number or too many. Mr Turner said his own postbag had reflected a similar range of opinions.