LibLink:: Christine Jardine: Refugees like Alan Kurdi are still dying in the Med

In her Scotsman column, Christine Jardine highlighted the plight of asylum seekers.

According to the group Medecins Sans Frontieres, there is now no search and rescue taking place in the Mediterranean. Only the Libyan coastguard is picking up people in its waters and taking them to detention centres. So far this year, it is estimated that 1,277 lives have been lost, many of them children. It’s only a little over three years since public opinion in this country and across the globe was outraged by the image of a toddler – three-year-old Alan Kurdi – lying dead in the breaking waves on a Mediterranean beach.

But when those hopeless faces of refugees off the Kent coast appeared on my TV screen this week, I had a moment of doubt. I’m not convinced we are currently living up to the reputation of those previous generations.

She also highlighted the plight of those who do make it here:

But right now, those people, many of whom do have valuable skills and experience to offer, are being stripped of their dignity and condemned to an existence on the very periphery of our society.

Instead, why don’t we recognise the contribution they could make and lift the ban on genuine asylum seekers from working? Allow them to seek employment after three months of claiming sanctuary, while their case is progressed?

Currently, you have to have been seeking asylum for more than 12 months and be able to fill one of a very narrow list of highly specialised jobs. The system is so enormously complicated that often even the Government has no clue who has applied, or whether anyone has found work. Of course, it is very possible that many asylum seekers may be too traumatised to work immediately. That is a different issue. But opening up the right to employment after three months would be an immediate route towards integration into local communities. It would help people to learn English and allow them to contribute to society – all things asylum seekers tell us they badly want to do.

You can read the whole article here.

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