The UK’s response to the refugee crisis: to save face or to save lives?

The UK’s response to the refugee crisis: to save face or to save lives?

Mary Everdeen offers an update on the refugee crisis

The EU is calling for the development of a new plan concerning the dispersal of refugees throughout member states, and wants the UK to be a part of this. David Cameron therefore faces significant pressure to share the burden of refugees after plans to scrap the Dublin agreement.

The current system places considerable pressure on southern countries within Europe as refugees are sent back to the country of entry to seek asylum. Plans to remove the current system under the Dublin Agreement are being considered as northern member states have a significantly smaller issue to deal with, and as a result refugees are being shipped from one country to the next like objects without an equal distribution of help from member countries.

David Cameron has strongly resisted EU quota plans, opting out and proposing that Britain would take only up to 20,000 Syrian refugees over the next 5 years. This, in comparison to other countries within the EU, is minimal and not legitimately contributing to the surge of refugees that Europe is experiencing.

A new structure for the distribution of refugees needs to be created, with each European member state pulling their weight and aiding these people in need. To put such great restrictions on who can seek safety in our country ignores the severity of the situation, placing too high a burden on other member states whilst also turning a blind eye to the needs of the refugees.

Countries such as Greece and Italy are struggling to undertake the great responsibility of the increased arrival of refugees, with many being transported from the UK and other Northern states, back to where they entered Europe under the unequal and somewhat dysfunctional current agreement. To help these people properly and humanely, we cannot solely rely on one or two countries. However, Cameron continues to shy away from options which equalise the situation.

Cameron can though once again resist the suggestions of the EU, and opt out of any sort of quota system, or he could decide to unite within the EU, and spread the burden equally between countries.

With current pressures on the PM to renegotiate the relationship between the UK and the EU, an acceptance of refugees within the country may place Cameron at the receiving end of criticism. Issues of EU migration and the refugee crisis are being conflated and confusing public opinion. Nevertheless, the problem of EU migration and the refugee crisis are wholly separate issues and with these individuals in need, trying to save face should not be a primary concern for the prime minister.

If plans go ahead to scrap the Dublin Agreement, then the country will be unable to ship refugees back to other states within the EU, which will potentially encourage refugees to make the full journey to the UK, putting pressure on our country regardless.

Whether this would leave the UK with less of a burden or not is unclear, but either way the country’s approach to the refugee crisis appears to have been a cold, distant one with little attempt to house and aid these people.

This could be Cameron’s chance to change this approach rather than continually resist the pressures of the refugee crisis. If he will take it is yet to be seen.

Featured image credit: Aljazeera 

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