I make no apology for returning to the subject of migration yet again: it is the chief source of my correspondence and it dominates the headlines.
The purpose of the international conventions on asylum to which we are a party, is to give sanctuary.
The migrants currently making their way through Europe are seeking a better life, and who wouldn’t, given what they have experienced. They should not be blamed for their desperate search for something better. They have suffered horribly, they invested heavily by paying criminal gangs of traffickers to bring them to Europe’s shores. They have braved perilous journeys, which for too many have proved fatal, including 3 year old Aylan Kurdi, his brother and his mother.
They all have however, passed through safe countries where sanctuary was available. Having seen the refugee camps in the region, I do not blame them for seeking a new and better life, but Europe would offer a better life than is currently available to three quarters of humanity. The EU plan for every member state to take a quota of refugees who arrive in Europe would send a powerful message to millions of other migrants to follow. It would be a bonanza to the traffickers and would multiply the number of deaths.
Britain is doing the right thing by the people of Syria: the Royal Navy is rescuing thousands in the Mediterranean. We are the second largest donor by a mile: we have committed £1 billion, more than we have given in any other such crisis, ever. We are funding shelter, healthcare, food, water, sanitation, counselling, protection, and education for the children so that there is ‘no lost generation’. In the region our money goes much further, helping so many more.
Of Course, the Prime Minister is right to respond to the public mood. The right way to do so, is to do more of what we are already doing: by working with the United Nations agencies to take the vulnerable and most deserving cases in the refugee camps – people who couldn’t possibly afford the charges of the traffickers. This way we can avoid so many more bodies on the beaches.