Farron: Enough is enough. It’s time to help refugees in need in response to Independent’s heartbreaking photo of a little dead Syrian boy

As David Cameron goes on the news and tells us all that we can’t take any refugees, but we are doing all we can to make life ok in the countries they come from, Tim Farron has been telling the Independent that we need to take in more refugees.

Cameron knows perfectly well that Syria is far from ok. How can it be when you have a brutally murderous dictator fighting a brutally murderous death cult for control?

Had we still been in Government, Cameron’s comments would have chilled me to the bone. The truth is we haven’t done enough to offer sanctuary to people in need throughout the whole crisis, not just this Summer. Nick Clegg certainly managed to ensure that we did take some people from Syria who needed specialised support but nowhere near enough.

The Independent has published a heartbreaking photograph of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach. They know it’s going to upset people. This is their explanation for so doing:

The Independent has taken the decision to publish the image, which some may find offensive, but the top of this article because among the often glib words about the “ongoing migrant crisis”, it is all too easy to forget the reality of the desperate situation facing many refugees.

That desperately sad image certainly puts Cameron’s “swarm” comments into perspective. Frankly, we are one of the richest countries in the world. We should show a bit of compassion to people in greater need than any of us have ever faced. If it meant that I had to pay more taxes so we could have a more compassionate and fairer system for seekers of sanctuary, then I would be happy to do so.

Tim Farron told the Independent that the UK should be helping these refugees, accusing Cameron and his government of having a “disengaged, cold and irrelevant” response to the refugees’ plight:

Britain has always been there for people in crisis,” he said. “It is a badge of pride for our country. We must step up again, work with our neighbours and do what we can to help.

Enough is enough, he said:

These pictures are beyond horrific. They are the wake-up call David Cameron needs.

Other senior Liberal Democrats have backed Tim up:

We should not stand by and let our government let us down by failing to help a relatively small number of people. Taking in a few thousand vulnerable people in desperate need will not put us out too much.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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80 Comments

  • George Kendall 2nd Sep '15 - 7:36pm

    There’s a petition on change.org on this, at:
    “No more drownings. Immediate sanctuary for those fleeing from war”
    https://www.change.org/p/rt-hon-theresa-may-mp-no-more-drownings-immediate-sanctury-for-those-fleeing-from-war

  • Syria is (or was until recently) a country of around 23 million people, most of whom are still stuck there.

    Please explain how taking in “a few thousand” is going to contribute much to solving the plight of Syrians. Even if the EU took in everyone who had managed to escape, there would still be many millions still left there. All we seem to be getting from the Lib Dems – who still refuse to say exactly what they think we should do – is token gestures which they seem to think make them look good.

  • Richard Underhill 2nd Sep '15 - 7:57pm

    We need to put more diplomatic pressure on Moscow. Russia is a major arms supplier to Syria and has always had ambitions for a warm water port on the Med. A few years ago there was a nasty civil war in Lebanon, at a time when Assad’s father was in power in Syria. Ending wars is possible however difficult it seems it is necessary to keep trying.

  • This is why I voted for Tim. Good man! This is leadership…

  • Syria will not be safe until it stops being a proxy war for the Saudi-Sunni / Iranian-Shia conflict. As Stuart says, there are millions of internally displaced Syrians and millions displaced to Syria’s immediate neighbours (Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey). The few hundred thousand in Europe are token.

  • “Cameron knows perfectly well that Syria is far from ok. How can it be when you have a brutally murderous dictator fighting a brutally murderous death cult for control?”

    Sadly, the time to intervene was when the Death Cult was weak and the moderate opposition was strong. Unfortunately that was scuppered by Ed Miliband.

  • Ben Midgley 2nd Sep '15 - 8:11pm

    Cameron’s stand is the result of painting himself into a corner on immigration targets, and backing down to Putin on Syria. We need a significant and co-ordinated European response which we ought to be giving leadership and impetus to.

  • Yes, well done Tim to take the lead on this! (and good for Yvette Cooper as well)

    Shameful of Pontius Cameron to wash his hands… What exactly is he doing to solve the problems in the countries thes people are fleeing?

  • Eddie Sammon 2nd Sep '15 - 8:20pm

    I don’t agree with them posting an unblurred photo. I’ve seen too many people say broadly the following “you don’t agree with me? Here’s a photo of a dead body”. It doesn’t add anything to the debate and I have seen it be done from the left and the right.

    My eyes always widened when I saw Cameron say the UK was not going to increase the amount of refugees it takes. Cameron is normally on the ball when it comes to messages to the press and I think he has got this wrong.

  • Ben Midgley 2nd Sep '15 - 8:29pm

    This is not about the Independant’s editorial decisions, or the man who the majority have forced to drink the poisoned chalice, it’s about the victims of the political ineptitude that has prevailed since the invasion of Iraq, people who right now need urgent redress.

  • Eddie,

    I realise this is a shock tactic by the Independent but really sometimes it is necessary to get people to realise what is really happening in the world. It is far too easy for people to sit in comfort and talk about swarms of migrants, and if David Cameron gets seriously embarrassed by this, he deserves it

  • Eddie Sammon, I do think the right-wing media’s constant harping on about the demonised ‘ migrants’ should be challenged. Radio 4’s PM today had an interview with a family who had fled Syria and travelled through three states to get to Germany. I Hungary they had been beaten up! The mother is eight months pregnant, they were audibly upset as they described how they had been to flee from their homes and their lives (much better lives than they will have in the West). These heart-breaking stories remind us that we are talking about human beings facing, through no fault of their own, desperate times. And this picture, too reminds us that we are talking about other human beings who are paying the ultimate price in the desperation to escape ISIS.

    On the subject of Cameron, he has a tiny majority, has a rabid right-wing champing at his ankles and a mainly anti-immigration media. He daren’t say anything to upset those people. In this way, he reveals that he is a politician and not a Statesman.

  • Ben Midgley,

    I fear though that Cameron joining in a bombing campaign on Assad (if that is what you mean by “standing up to Putin over Syria”) would not have improved the situation. People are beginning to realise that Assad is certainly not worse than what will replace him (the choice is hardly pleasant though…). Bombing Libya has certainly not improved things, and neither did invading Iraq

    Meanwhile we are hardly in a position to complain about the Russians selling weapons to Assad http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/07/17/uk-sells-arms-to-worlds-w_n_3608760.html

  • On the subject if Tim Farron he should have risen above politics mans made common cause with Yvette Cooper p’s suggestion that the UK takes in 10,000. As it is, his comments are pretty vague and meaningless. There comes a time to be very precise in what your so,union is – saying ” enough is enough” well what does that mean exactly?what would Tim do if he were in Cameron’s shoes??

  • I hope the Independent have also put the photo, along with other examples of failed sea crossings on media outlets available to those thinking of setting out on a sea crossing… Failure to do so would indicate that the media is actually only interested in manufacturing a news story through emotionally blackmailing the UK government and not actually really caring about the people it is reporting on.

  • Phyllis,

    Tim is on record as saying we should take our European quota of 60,000

    http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/jul/04/migrants-lib-dems-calais-channel-tunnel-eurostar

    So Yvette Cooper’s 10,000 is hardly generous.. Much poorer countries than Britain are taking their quota… It is Cooper who should be “rising above politics” and backing Tim on this one…

  • Ben Midgley 2nd Sep '15 - 9:59pm

    Andrew McC,

    It was time for Putin to pull back from Assad. As you will remember the problems in Syria began with Assad firing on unarmed pro-democracy protestors and their communities.

  • AndrewMcC hey I’m more than happy to be corrected on this but I can’t see where Tim says we should take 60,000 people in, just the Guardian saying he says so. And he said that at the time when he was standing for the Party leadership and courting ‘liberal’ votes. Now that he is leader, he hasn’t repeated that number. At least I can’t see any words in this article that mentions a number from Tim and yet now would be the perfect time to say ‘ Cameron, enough is enough, we should immediately take in 60,000 people’ . If he has said that somewhere else in the last day or so, I’m more than happy to have my faith restored. But I can only call it as I find it.

  • I’m getting really tired of Lib Dems pontificating on this issue while giving virtually no practical suggestions as to what we should actually do. Cameron’s refusal to take in more refugees may be odious, but the Lib Dems’ total disregard for the people still stuck in Syria (many of whom will never have the ability to get out) seems worse. All Lib Dems seem interested in is letting in a few thousand lucky ones in to the UK then patting themselves on the back for a job well done. How that is supposed to prevent more children being washed up on Mediterranean beaches is not explained.

  • Ben Midgley 2nd Sep '15 - 10:35pm

    Power to your elbow Roger.

    For my money, considering the creation of a safe haven as near to the actual conflict zone as possible seems the priority.

    If we can direct the traffic, provide the transport, do consular work on site and gain the initiative we might be able to turn the tide with European, and other military, NGO and government agencies working together.

    Might seem a bit far fetched, but on the coast just North of Latakia, on the Syrian side of Turkish border would be an ideal spot for naval support and good logistics with air bases on Cyprus etc. it’s not the crusades, a purely humanitarian mission.

  • I believe that Syrian asylum seekers deserve our sympathy and support. Europe including the UK need to help. DC saying shopping the war is the key. I understand that there is no effective moderate opposition left in Syria so the only “winners” would be a brutal dictatorship or a frankly brutal pseudo Muslim regime. Neither offers any hope for the country.

    I understand why economic migrants want to come, but do feel we need to think about effective mechanisms for this group.

  • nigel hunter 3rd Sep '15 - 12:10am

    I have said in a recent article to develop sort of holiday camp estates with caravanettes or portacabins or the like.to house refugees. The refugees could be monitored given work to develop infrastructure for these camps or be selected for more skilled jobs or be billeted with willing families (some families have offered). These resorts can be used over and over again. They do not have to be large. They can be dispersed throughout the country. Later they can be used for social housing for example. Ideas for action are needed not rhetoric.

  • When the Lib Dems where in coalition government with the Tories can somebody let me know how many refugees were accepted into the UK for their applications to be considered.

  • Jonathan Brown 3rd Sep '15 - 12:57am

    @Stuart – I’m getting really tired about people pontificating about Lib Dems when they’re not paying attention to what we’re doing or saying. Tim Farron was on the scene in Calais a month ago, and has been calling for the UK to take 60,000 refugees for ages.

    Maybe that’s a drop in the ocean, but it’s a much, much bigger drop than the ~200 we’ve taken so far, and if we took ‘our share’ we’d be in a position to argue for other European countries to take their share too. The figure isn’t plucked out of nowhere – it’s the number that came out of discussions at a European level as to how we could help resolve the crisis.

    @madmacs – it isn’t true that there is no moderate opposition to Assad. The International Crisis Group have a good report out today on how dramatic change could be achieved by applying a little pressure: http://www.crisisgroup.org/en/regions/middle-east-north-africa/syria-lebanon/syria/163-new-approach-in-southern-syria.aspx?utm_campaign=website&utm_source=sendgrid.com&utm_medium=email

    “As has become clear throughout Syria, however, opposition elements cannot build effective governance amid the death and destruction caused by aerial bombardment, particularly given the regime’s tendency to target precisely those facilities necessary for capacity to emerge. Diplomatic admonitions which are not backed by concrete action carry little weight with the regime’s backers, and are unlikely to halt Assad’s use of air attacks as part of a scorched-earth strategy and a way to mete out collective punishment.”

  • Phyllis,

    Tim wrote a letter to Cameron on 1st August saying we should join an EU quota system:

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/calais-migrant-crisis-we-should-pull-our-weight-to-deal-with-this-crisis-tim-farron-tells-pm-10432855.html

    It looks like the figure of 60,000 in the Guardian was plucked out of the air… Obviously the size of the quota depends on the number of refugees and the number of countries involved, and no-one can agree at the moment. I read though that Germany expects to have to take 100,000 in the end, but that is without any quotas agreed for most large countries. I must admit I don’t have time to go and find an authoritative estimate of what the quota might be.

    Anyway I agree with Tim that it is very unreasonable just to let countries like Italy and Greece (now Hungary it seems) bear the brunt of the refugee/migrant crisis. We should take our fair share, allowing for population density and not just population. There is a moral obligation not only to the refugees but to our partners. If Cameron would act more like a member of the EU he might get a better deal in advance of the referendum..

  • @Jonathan Brown
    You’re completely missing the point. Even the numbers who have made it to Europe so far are a tiny proportion of the total in Syria. The ones who have made it here alive are the lucky ones. The real crisis here is the one going on in Syria, and Tim Farron’s photo ops in Calais are not going to do anything about that.

    There are so many unanswered questions. Where will the new arrivals live? Once we’ve taken our 5,000 (Caron) or 60,000 (Tim) or whatever other figure you pluck out of the air, what happens next? What do we do about Syria itself? I’d like to see Tim Farron engaging in these kinds of question much more and stopping using the plight of these refugees as a means of scoring political points.

  • Well said Tim. It is perfectly possible to do lots to try to improve the situation in Syria AND take many more refugees in. Cameron saying it won’t solve the problem is missing the point – it is the right thing to do.

  • There must surely be an island somewhere which can be populated by both economic migrants and refugees from persecution. Let’s face it, these are people with a lot of ” gumption’ and determination if they are able to escape and travel long distances to get to safety/other lands.

    I don’t know where but if Guantanamo Bay can be used for specific purposes, surely there must be an equivalent place which can be turned over to people who need a new homeland to build from scratch and prosper. A bit like the Pilgrim Fathers (I think). The Aid Budget could be used to set them up initially but with the expectation that the new citizens would then make it self-sustaining.

  • Stuart

    Yes I agree. Tim needs to be much more ” if I were Prime Minister right now, this is what I and the Liberal Democrats would do” and then lay out a big, bold, brave and radical vision for the refugee/migrant calamity.

    Otherwise people just think ” well you can afford to say that because it’s five years until the next GE and you’ll likely never be tested anyway”.

    Now, the Labour Party don’t really do ‘ big, bold, brave and radical’ anymore. They tend to follow the safe path. Yvette Cooper’s figure of 10,000 is based on each Council in the country taking ten people each. She’s been approached by Councillors saying they could easily do that. That seems to me to answer your question of ” where will they live?” . Of course Tim could equally say ” each Council could easily take 60 people” but he hasn’t really don’t that kind of “think-through”. He needs to. Otherwise it’s just empty words.

  • 2nd Sep ’15 – 8:09pm……………..“Cameron knows perfectly well that Syria is far from ok. How can it be when you have a brutally murderous dictator fighting a brutally murderous death cult for control?”…………………..Sadly, the time to intervene was when the Death Cult was weak and the moderate opposition was strong. Unfortunately that was scuppered by Ed Miliband……………..

    That was what was promised in Libya, except it turned out that the so-called moderates had no influence…Cameron visited Libya twice and promised “Whatever was needed”; how long did that last…
    We may not like Assad but like Saddam and Gaddafi before him he ruled a stable country…Outside interference has turned all three into ‘basket cases’…..You appear to have learned nothing from Iraq and Libya…

  • Richard Stallard 3rd Sep '15 - 9:27am

    The little syrian toddler in the photo was perfectly safe in Bodrum, Turkey with his family until his parents decided to head for Kos in overcrowded dinghy, in dead of night, with no life jackets and pay thousands of Euro to do so.

    The question you have to ask is why would they do that when they had already found refuge from whatever danger they were in? As they were evidently no longer seeking refuge, their motivation to put their son’s life at risk must have been something else.

    I wonder what it was?

  • Richard Stallard you don’t know how they were treated in Turkey.

    A family on Radio 4 yesterday were beaten in Hungary! And the mother was eight months pregnant. I think it’s very dangerous to have ‘pat’ knee-jerk responses to people’s plight without knowing the full story. They would not have undertaken such a dangerous and expensive journey without good reason, surely?!

  • Katerina Porter 3rd Sep '15 - 9:44am

    We do apparently give a great deal of aid to refugee camps in Jordan, Lebabanon, etc, where there are already 2 million? 3 million ?. We should take in refugees, 60,000 as a start. These people are those who had the means to pay smugglers, they are leaving a country where they personally had a good standard of living for the good reason that their lives are at risk.
    What about a no fly zone? we did it elsewhere. It should stop the barrel bombs at least.

  • Katerina Porter 3rd Sep ’15 – 9:44am ………………… What about a no fly zone? we did it elsewhere. It should stop the barrel bombs at least….

    Oh yes; in Iraq and Libya. Remind me; how did that turn out?

  • Richard Stallard 3rd Sep '15 - 10:29am

    @Phyllis,
    From the UNHCR:
    “Since the Syrian crisis began in 2011, Turkey – estimated to host over one million Syrians – has maintained an emergency response of a consistently high standard and declared a temporary protection regime, ensuring non-refoulement and assistance in 22 camps, where an estimated 217,000 people are staying. Turkey is currently constructing two additional camps.”

    So, Turkey is a country that ‘has maintained an emergency response of a consistently high standard’. Having reached it, they have found the refuge that they are entitled to under the various UN conventions etc.

    So why leave?

  • Richard Dean 3rd Sep '15 - 11:03am

    Yes.Surely everybody knows that our recent response to this crisis has been shameful. Even David Cameron appeared uncomfortable when he spoke. Many children have died without being photographed, but that does not diminish the impact of the fact than one more child also died, and this time did have his photograph taken. The problems in the Middle East have gone on for many years, and the long term solution is not going to happen anytime soon.

    The immediate humanitarian crisis is a question of providing support to distressed, traumatized refugees. We do not provide that by telling them they cannot come here. Nor by characterizing their distress as a cover for evil intentions. Nor do we show any solidarity at all with our allies in Europe by forcing them to shoulder all of the burden.

    The number I heard was 350,000 refugees per year, which is a small fraction of what countries in the Middle East and Africa have supported as a result of conflicts. We are 12% of the EU population, so we should be taking 12% of the 350,000, which is 42,000. Challenging yes, but possible yes. It requires proactive government planning. It is the absence of planning that has historically created problem, not refugees themselves.

    It now seems that Germany is the leading moral authority in Western Europe. Moral authority does have commercial value, and by losing it we also lose goodwill that we benefit from in all sorts of negotiations. We may also lose the influence we have in bodies such as the UN Security Council.

    Let us hope the government can improve its response soon.

  • One has to ask why the parents irresponsibly risked the life of their child leaving a safe haven, Turkey, no doubt in search of a better economic future.

    The breathless rhetoric ignores the facts in this particular case. It seems to me that some are exploiting this tragedy for political gain.

  • David Allen 3rd Sep '15 - 11:28am

    On what Tim did or didn’t say: Yes, people have found newspaper articles showing that he wrote to Cameron and called for us to join an EU quota system long before Cooper spoke up. So evidently I’m wrong to suggest that he wasn’t specific enough. On the other hand, I don’t think Tim’s comments got wide publicity, and more recently, Tim has reverted to non-specific comments. So, now we should be thinking about how to take the argument forward, both in terms of getting something done for refugees, and in terms of taking a lead on it.

    Posters above have mentioned various numbers, like 60,000 for Britain and maybe 100,000 for Germany, but, hang on a bit. With more coming all the time, how can we know any of these numbers? ITV News keeps telling me that Germany expect to take 800,000 this year. With their underpopulation problem, they can maybe cope with that. If we just say “Let the EU, led by Germany, decide for us what our quota should be” then we surely risk being told to take not 10,000 or 60,000, but more like 400,000. That would be very difficult for Britain, and any politician who had let us in for it would get pilloried by the public.

    So we need some sort of twin-track policy. We should say that we should make a fair agreement with the other nations of the EU, but not that we will simply be dictated to by an EU quota system. We should say that we are prepared to take refugees in the tens of thousands, but alongside that, we need to see action in other directions. We also need to see more EU support and financing to keep Syrian refugees in Turkey. The Richard Stallards aren’t completely wrong. We can’t turn off the tap, but we can slow down the flow, and if we don’t do our best to do that too, we’re only creating bigger problems for ourselves and for the refugees themselves.

  • David Allen 3rd Sep '15 - 11:32am

    Peter, “It seems to me that some are exploiting this tragedy for political gain.”

    Yes, starting with Cameron, who is angling for support from those who approve of shutting our eyes to dying foreigners and putting comfortable British life first.

  • Richard Stallard

    The relatives of the toddler have given an interview to say that Syrians are treated terribly in Turkey. Maybe this is a recent development, or maybe the UNHCR did not see this (no inspection is infallible) but I think I will take the word if the people who were actually there. People simply do not risk life and limb and especially the lives of their babies, if they were not desperate.

  • Richard Stallard, I found the passage you quoted on the UNHCR website but there is no indication as to how up-to-date the information is. And there is frequent mention of ” in 2015 we will….” in the future tense which makes me suspect that this was written towards the end of 2014. A lot can happen in ten months so we cannot assume just because UNHCR thought the standards were high in 2014 that the same remains true now. I can well imagine that the Turkish authorities might be less sympathetic to Syrian refugees as time goes on and greater numbers of people arrive.

  • David Evershed 3rd Sep '15 - 11:46am

    What is the problem to which giving refuge to a few 10s of thousands of migrants is the answer?

    The problem is that most of the people in poor or war torn countries in Africa and the Middle East would prefer to live in Europe and many of the younger and better off people in these countries can travel to Europe one way or another. Once they are in the EU, if EU countries then accept all migrants rather than just those who have been persecuted on grounds of religion, race or gender then there is no limit to how many can settle.

    The solution is surely for the people in war torn and poor countries in Africa and the Middle East to be encouraged and incentivesed to improve the conditions in their own country. It is not practical for hundreds of millions of Arabs and Africans to migrate to the EU to avoid tacking the problems in their own country.

  • Richard Stallard 3rd Sep '15 - 11:57am

    @David Evershed
    “What is the problem to which giving refuge to a few 10s of thousands of migrants is the answer?”

    To salve people’s consciences as they read their newspapers at breakfast before shopping at Marks and Spencers and stopping off for a Costa coffee. It makes them feel good without having to actually do anything.

  • David Evershed “The problem is that most of the people in poor or war torn countries in Africa and the Middle East would prefer to live in Europe ”

    As an immigrant from Africa, trust me, they really wouldn’t ! They would prefer to live in their homeland without war or poverty.

  • Does anyone know why the refugees cannot go to the U.S.? There are vast tracts of empty land there and it was basically built by immigrants. Why does Europe have to absorb all the Syrian refugees?

  • I like the Indy but didn’t like their use of that photo. I can’t pretend that I have any clue how to solve this awful problem, but we do need to learn lessons – was Miliband correct to play politics about intervening in the early days?
    Whether we take 5000 or 60,000 what do you say to numbers 5,001 and 60,001 on the list? If we can’t answer that honestly, then the numbers bandied around are just that, meaningless numbers and it does nothing to address the urgency.
    What on earth is to be done about the millions who can’t or won’t leave Syria?

  • Mick Taylor 3rd Sep '15 - 1:15pm

    I have submitted the following complaint to the BBC about their reporting on this subject and urge others to complain likewise

    “I object most strongly to the continued use of the pejorative word ‘migrant’ to refer to refugees from war and oppression in your reporting of the current influx of refugees from the war-torn areas of the Middle East to the EU. This panders to those who want to fan the flames of hatred towards people who are fleeing for their lives. Indeed the whole tone of your reporting – online, on radio and on TV – about the tragedy unfolding in the many wars on the EU’s borders panders to racism and to the line being taken by UKIP and others of their ilk. It does not meet the BBC’s standards of impartial reporting. I would urge you to cease using the word migrant and use instead the word refugee, which is much more appropriate and accurate.”

  • John Tilley 3rd Sep '15 - 1:28pm

    Mick Taylor 3rd Sep ’15 – 1:15pm

    Well done, Mick Taylor. The BBC has behaved appallingly on this. Repeating the scare tactic headlines of The Mail and The Express is NOT public service broadcasting. It is the worst sort of dumbed down, sensationalist lowest common denominator.

    I hope others follow your sample and complain to the BBC.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 3rd Sep '15 - 2:06pm

    I find the lack of compassion expressed by some on this thread – including some pretty abhorrent blaming of people in desperate circumstances – utterly depressing and not at all typical of views within the Liberal Democrats.

    The sooner we play our part in working with other countries to find a way to help these people the better. Unfortunately, David Cameron is simply worsening our international reputation even further by his nonchalance.

    I was interested by what Emma Thompson was saying on Newsnight last night – if you are frightened by what is happening now, then you should be really passionate about stopping climate change because if we don’t and parts of the earth become uninhabitable, this refugee crisis will look very small in comparison.

    The world belongs to all its people and there are certain of us who need to stop being so selfish and help those in need. The way to longer term peace lies in that sort of approach.

  • @Jonathan Brown – “Maybe that’s a drop in the ocean, but it’s a much, much bigger drop than the ~200 we’ve taken so far” (3rd Sep ’15 – 12:57am)

    Like many here you are being sucked into a non-issue. The media (and others) would like to make out that it is the UK (and only the UK) who are being difficult by not taking migrants from variable war zones, such as Syria. However, they omit some real news, like why are people leaving Syria via Turkey and not going to other countries in the Middle East, such as Saudi Arabia, who are also very very wealthy…

  • Richard Stallard 3rd Sep '15 - 2:17pm

    @Phyllis
    “The relatives of the toddler have given an interview to say that Syrians are treated terribly in Turkey.”

    That may be the case or it many not, but they have still reached a ‘safe country’ as defined under the various UN conventions etc. It is not a country at war.

    If they are being treated badly there (perhaps ‘beaten’ by a person or persons, as in the case in Hungary you referred-to), then that is an internal criminal matter for the authorities of those countries to deal with. Not us.
    Would you say that a refugee in, say, Germany who was assaulted by someone should also have to be accepted by another country just on the strength of that?

  • Richard Stallard

    Apparently the Turkish people hate the Kurds and treat them atrociously. It’s not a question of ” a street crime” .

  • Roland “why are people leaving Syria via Turkey and not going to other countries in the Middle East, such as Saudi Arabia, who are also very very wealthy…”

    Many people have gone to Saudi Arabia and SA is also supporting Lebanon with funds to support the camps there,.

    But what is your answer to why people are not going to Saudi???

  • JohnMc “Whether we take 5000 or 60,000 what do you say to numbers 5,001 and 60,001 on the list? If we can’t answer that honestly, then the numbers bandied around are just that, meaningless numbers and it does nothing to address the urgency.”

    That’s why the quota system is so sensible. Everyone takes their fair share.

  • @Phyllis – “A family on Radio 4 yesterday were beaten in Hungary!” (3rd Sep ’15 – 9:40am)

    The media know how to get people’s attention!

    Hungary are doing what it is expected and required under EU rules, namely requiring migrants/refugees/asylum seekers to register BEFORE allowing them to journey to other EU member states. However, as we’re seeing (on the media footage that doesn’t get commented on) these migrants et al have little respect for our conventions and laws and have been behaving like crowds of football supporters from the 70’s/80’s on the rampage. So it is hardly surprising that the police are being tough.

  • Eddie Sammon 3rd Sep '15 - 2:34pm

    Cameron appears to be changing his tone, but regardless: this has the feel of a major historical event and we need to help more.

    Take more refugees yes, but I would also support extending bombings against ISIS in Syria. I would be interested in removing Assad, but it would require a cross party long-term commitment to the country. I could see us getting in and then someone like Burnham doing something populist and pulling us out too early and the whole thing starting over again.

    It needs long-term American commitment too. Plenty of populists in the US who would abandon the job and blame it on someone else.

  • Eddie Sammon 3rd Sep '15 - 2:38pm

    PS, I agree with Caron that climate change matters too.

  • Katerina Porter 3rd Sep '15 - 2:49pm

    Expat. THe Iraq No Fly Zones first started 1992 to protect Kurds fleeing from Saddam Hussein after the Gulf War where he had invaded Kuwait and later to protect Shiites also being attacked by him. George Bush with his desire to invade Iraq had not yet been elected.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 3rd Sep '15 - 3:07pm

    “However, as we’re seeing (on the media footage that doesn’t get commented on) these migrants et al have little respect for our conventions and laws and have been behaving like crowds of football supporters from the 70’s/80’s on the rampage. ”

    We don’t quite know the full circumstances and it must be very confusing to be in a strange place where you don’t speak the language and don’t quite get what’s going on.

  • @Phyllis “As an immigrant from Africa, trust me, they really wouldn’t ! They would prefer to live in their homeland without war or poverty.”

    As an immigrant from Africa, what do you think is the reason that so many African countries suffer from poor governance and corruption? And if control was imposed externally that brought in peace, stability, better governance and the prospects of economic development, how would you feel about it?

  • Roland”However, as we’re seeing (on the media footage that doesn’t get commented on) these migrants et al have little respect for our conventions and laws and have been behaving like crowds of football supporters from the 70’s/80’s on the rampage. ”

    The language of ” otherness” you use is really deplorable ! ” these migrants…..our conventions”….

    These are human beings just like us who were living very civilised and respectable lives until war drove them to leave their homeland and all their belongings. And I highly doubt that a heavily pregnant mother was behaving like a football hooligan. Yes there may be hotheaded young men among all the refugees who are there but to lump everyone together as if they are all ill-behaved ‘rabble’ is just plain wrong.

    None of us know from the TV footage what each of these individuals has gone through. Please think how you would feel if you had a perfectly normal life one day and then the next day lost everything, had to flee for your life with your little ones from the barbaric ISIS regime and found yourself in a living nightmare.

    Many of these people will be suffering PTSD for many years to come.

  • Liberal Neil 3rd Sep '15 - 4:22pm

    Roland: “like why are people leaving Syria via Turkey and not going to other countries in the Middle East, such as Saudi Arabia, who are also very very wealthy…”

    Off the top of my head:

    1 Most of the population live much nearer to Turkey than Saudi;

    2 To get to Saudi they would have to travel across several hundred miles of desert;

    3 The Saudi regime is not very nice.

  • We already have asylum seekers here and homeless from the EU but I have not heard of anyone offering to house them in their own homes. What do people think will happen, where will they be housed, how will they be fed, how will they be educated, how will they receive healthcare? It is easy to sign a petition, sit back in a rosy glow as if you have just done something amazing. You have not. Now if all who sign the petitition offer real practical help that would be different but I doubt many will. Phyllis, many fear that we will have to flee from Daesh who have boasted that they are sending fighters amongst the refugees. Why have all those men left their women to face the terror, perhaps they are the terror?

  • Mick Taylor 3rd Sep '15 - 10:34pm

    Instead of talking about it, why not offer practical help? My parents Brian and Susan Taylor took in a Ugandan Asian family in our house in 1968. My wife and I are certainly prepared to do the same now. Why not follow the example of Iceland and ask for volunteers to house Syrian refugees until they can get a place of their own? Iceland got 10,000 volunteers for the 10,000 people they were willing to take in.

  • Mick Taylor “Instead of talking about it, why not offer practical help? My parents Brian and Susan Taylor took in a Ugandan Asian family in our house in 1968”

    Do you mean the Ugandan Asians expelled by Idi Amin?. If so, the year was 1972.

  • Mick Taylor where will this place of their own come from? You will be in danger as no doubt the local authority will see the family you might take in as settled! Very difficult to live with your own boomerang children let alone strangers who may not speak your language and perhaps be of a devout religious persuasion. Or do you mean to pick and choose? Not so easy is it?

  • Mick Taylor,

    I think that is a very good suggestion. A call for volunteers to house Syrian refugees until they can stand on their own feet would establish the numbers that can be coped with in the short term and perhaps get around the political resistance to more immigration.

    The Hungarian premier has made it clear that his country are not prepared to settle a large Muslim diaspora within their borders and the same is true of much of the Western Balkans that was formerly within the Ottoman Empire. It is also apparent that the Western Balkans is not a desirable relocation for many Syrians. They are coming from what was a prosperous and cultivated Mediterranean culture and seek refuge in Western Europe where employment and educational prospects for their children are comparable with what they used to have in Syria.

    I don’t see any realistic alternative to the countries of Western Europe allowing unrestricted access for Syrian refugees, with Germany, as well as France and the UK, as permanent members of the UN security council, taking the lead.

    A UN camp would probably need to be set-up in Turkish Thrace to quickly process asylum seekers heading for Western Europe. At the same time, safe zones need to be established within Syria along its borders with Turkey, protected by Nato troops, to prevent further displacement of refugees from Aleppo and surrounding areas.

  • John Tilley 4th Sep '15 - 5:10am

    Phyllis
    You may recall the Labour Government’s 1968 Commonwealth Immigration Act which inserted into UK law a deliberately racist element which differentiated between those subjects who were white and “one of us” and those who were not. This resulted in people moving to the UK before their passport was torn up by our government.
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commonwealth_Immigrants_Act_1968

    Whilst Idi Amin’s forced expulsion of Asians from Uganda did not officially begin until August 1972 the discrimination against and demonisation of Uganda Asians began much earlier.

    Mick Taylor will know the facts, but it is entirely likely that it was indeed 1968 that he remembers.

    The irony of Idi Amin is that he was eventually thrown out of Africa for being an appalling dictator, a murderer and torturer. So he was given Asylum by Saudi Arabia. The Saudi dictator probably thought Amin’s behaviour entirely normal and that he would fit in well in the despotic kingdom where they behead their citizens on an industrial scale. The Saudis funded him for the rest of his life in his new country.

    How telling that the Saudis who were so welcoming to Idi Amin have not accepted a single Syrian refugee in 2015.

  • Mick Taylor 4th Sep '15 - 8:06am

    1968 or 1972, the fact is that my parents offered help to refugees. The Labour government of the day passed a new immigration act (which only the Liberal opposed) to stop the Ugandan Asians from coming and that was in 1968. The family stayed some months and the father started a business and they moved out and as far as I know prospered. I am confident that the same would happen today. To think otherwise is to fall for the right wing propaganda of scrounges and ne’er dowells. Of course it needs a scheme, but as Richard Kemp points out on his blog, most of the families who came to Liverpool to escape the Balkan conflict eventually returned home. In the interim they worked and supported themselves. We need faith in our fellow people, not scepticism.

  • Jayne Mansfield 4th Sep '15 - 9:02am

    @ Mick Taylor,
    I commend you sir. Also your parents.

    Many of us have spare room in our homes. What we need it a central organisation that we can contact to ask in what way we can help. My husband and I do not belong to a Church. At the moment, I think that my Facebook friends are the type who will probably be the first to alert me to the practicalities.

    We would prefer a family so that our children and our grandchildren could help with the orientation process.

  • Jayne Mansfield 4th Sep '15 - 9:07am

    @ Anne,
    No it is never easy.

    Anyone who has opened their home to children whose parents cannot care for them themselves is aware of that. But people do it and do it successfully. Support networks help.

  • Richard Underhill 4th Sep '15 - 6:13pm

    Richard Stallard 3rd Sep ’15 – 9:27am, Richard Stallard 3rd Sep ’15 – 9:27am,
    Turkey is not a full signatory to the 1951 convention relating to the status of refugees as amended by the 1967 protocol.
    Turkey
    “The instrument of accession stipulates that the Government of Turkey maintains the provisions of the declaration made under section B of article 1 of the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, done at Geneva on 28 July 1951, according to which it applies the Convention only to persons who have become refugees as a result of events occurring in Europe, and also the reservation clause made upon ratification of the Convention to the effect that no provision of this Convention may be interpreted as granting to refugees greater rights than those accorded to Turkish citizens in Turkey.”
    https://treaties.un.org/pages/ShowMTDSGDetails.aspx?src=UNTSONLINE&tabid=2&mtdsg_no=V-5&chapter=5&lang=en#EndDec

  • Richard Underhill 4th Sep '15 - 6:22pm

    Turkey is also a combatant and has provided the USAF with a miltary base, which means that those attacked may counter-attack.

  • Mick Taylor 5th Sep '15 - 8:17am

    Further to my earlier post the BBC have sent me this mealy mouthed response

    “Dear Dr Taylor

    Thanks for contacting us about our coverage of the recent migrant crisis. We raised your concerns with Jonathan Munro, Head of Newsgathering at BBC News. He explained that:

    “We always think carefully about our use of language and aim to use the most appropriate words or terms based on the information we know at the time and what best explains the story to our audiences. It is not always clear cut whether some migrant groups already have refugee status, are seeking asylum, looking for work, the stage of their journey, or whether they will try to enter a country illegally so we judge each story on a case by case basis.”

    We hope this goes some way in addressing your concerns. Your feedback is important to our news editors and helps them decide how to approach reporting on stories like this.

    Thanks again for contacting us. ”

    I in turn have responded as follows

    “I am wholly dissatisfied with your response to my original question. Your website has 5 stories on the current refugee problem and on 4 of them you call the refugees ‘migrants’, when it’s quite clear that they are refugees. You are the BBC. You are supposed to be impartial and factual. However, you are being both biased and incorrect. The people fleeing war and terror in the Middle East are refugees, not migrants and you really must report the reality. Weasel words like ‘we’re not sure what they are’ – the gist of your reply to me – just won’t wash. You are playing into the hands of UKIP and the far right and that is not the BBC’s role. Please stop this odious practice.”

    I would welcome other people submitting complaints as well.

  • I agree refugees should be given a safe place to live, but once the war or other cause of persecution is over they should be returned home. Why is the offer of asylum permanent?

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