Dear Mr James
Thank you for contacting me about the plight of Syrian refugees. I am sorry you have had to wait some time for a reply but the situation is constantly evolving.
The humanitarian cost of the civil war in Syria is enormous, not just in injuries and casualties but the number of displaced individuals and families. I fully agree that we are morally committed to help in this area and I am pleased that Britain is the second biggest donor of international aid to Syria in the world. The PM’s willingness to take 20,000 of those who have been identified as genuine refugees by the UN via established refugee camps is, I believe the correct response. We have, however, differentiate this refugee crisis from the flow of migrants, many of them economic migrants currently coming to Europe. EU figures suggest that only 20% are displaced Syrians and the many others coming from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, Eritrea and Sudan. We have rules already in place to control the flow of economic migrants and if we simply take the fittest and fastest, then we will undermine that process. Equally, if we are unable to determine exactly where these individuals come from and the reasons for their movement, then we will be unable to minimise the risk of importing those with fundamentalist views who pose a threat to our security coming in the guise of refugees rather than identifying genuine refugees from the Syrian conflict.
You will be aware that the Vulnerable Persons Relocations scheme (VPRS) is up and running, and has already welcomed a number of Syrians to the UK. This scheme will make a real difference to the lives of some of the most vulnerable Syrians by giving them protection and support in the UK.
To support our local communities the foreign aid budget will be used to finance these refugees for the first year and help local councils with things such as housing. In the longer term, our additional aid spending will be directed to these failed states and to the refugee crisis. The Prime Minister has also appointed a new Minister for Refugees, who will be solely responsible for overseeing the work of welcoming these refugees to the UK.
Of course, simply taking people will not solve this crisis. We need a comprehensive solution that deals with the people most responsible for the terrible scenes we see: President Assad in Syria, the butchers of ISIL and the criminal gangs that are running this terrible trade in people. We have to be as tough on them at the same time.
I am glad that the Prime Minister has been clear that the aim is to resettle 1,000 refugees by Christmas. The Government will report back after Christmas to assess how many refugees have come.
Parliamentary Office of the Rt Hon Dr Liam Fox MP
So this time last year I was travelling from Turkey to Calais (except I stopped short at Amsterdam because I needed to fly home at short notice but I digress) I went the easy way, I crossed the border controls (there are MANY) on bus and train with ease. This year it’s not me who’s making this journey, but hundreds of thousands of refugees travelling, not for luxury or to economically better themselves, but out of fear for their and their loved one’s lives. For Asylum. Many escape the strict border controls by travelling across the seas to Greece. And many die in the process. So now the media have suddenly realised that YES we should be helping these people, I wrote a letter to my MP, and encourage you to do so too, perhaps using this website as a template.
Also, if you haven’t yet, please sign this petition to parliament https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/105991
Sorry to be yet another human in the world writing an Open Letter.
Dear Dr Liam Fox MP,
A couple of months ago, a personal hero of mine, Sir Nicholas Winton, died at the age of 106. As I’m sure you know, Winton is famed as “Britain’s Schindler” for his effort in organising the kinder-transport system. Evacuating 669 children from Prague Hlavni Nadrazi to the safety of our islands, in the face of what we now know was almost certain death.
In 2013, Winton expressed the utmost angst about the state of world affairs. He said “Things are in trouble at the moment” that “all these terrible things are happening where civilisation started”, of course referring to the death, and the utmost senseless terror and destruction happening across the Levant.
He spoke to his MP, Teresa May, about “Ethics.”. He pressed upon her to “Forget religion. If everyone believed in ethics – goodness, kindness, love, decency – we’d have no problems at all. That’s the only way.” I’m sure you’d agree that this world needs more people like Winton. Upon his death, in a eulogy, May stated “we must ensure that his legacy lives on.”
And that is why I am writing to you. In a plea for some goodness, kindness, love, decency, and compassion in relation the the horrifying humanitarian disaster running from Middle-East to Calais.
And now on our doorsteps, it’s unavoidable.
Humans: men, women, children, are being forced to risk their lives due to the lack of legal routes to safety in the UK and other EU countries. Over 1300 people died making this exodus for refuge in April 2015 alone. And yet so far the UK has taken in hardly a third of the amount of refugees that were rescued by Winton’s efforts.
Today, the Prime Minister stated “Britain is a moral nation and we will fulfil our moral responsibilities.”
Please urge him to turn these words into actions by pledging that the Government will offer thousands of additional places on Britain’s life-changing resettlement programmes to refugees around the world, bringing them directly and safely from the region to our shores. (Alive). Please make it easier for refugees to join their relatives who already live in the safety of Britain, so that they can travel legally without being forced to undertake dangerous journeys in their search for refuge.
Please show your support by signing EDM 99.
I agree with the Prime Minister that we are a moral nation, that we can and will show compassion, that we can be a nation of Sir Nicholas Wintons. I agree that we should stand up for refugees by legally protecting them in the UK. I agree that we should legislate legal routes so that they are not forced to put their lives in the hands of smugglers in their search for a safe haven.
I look forward to hearing your views on this matter.