Debate: Should the UK take its fair share
of refugees?

For – Ben Kelly

The narrow media coverage and plethora of misinformation is stirring a frenzy of irrationality and xenophobia. We can choose to live in ignorance and fear, or we can inform ourselves and think.

This is not the impending collapse of society in Europe, approximately 200,000 migrants have arrived in 2015; 0.027% of Europe’s total population. Calm down.

Those who insist “they are economic migrants” are asserting something without evidence. We mustn’t allow ourselves to be infected by Daily Express syndrome. Yes, immigration is an issue; I am not an advocate of open borders. However, we must separate the issues in our minds.

Much of our paranoia centres on the relatively unimportant camps in Calais. Concerns should be directed at Heathrow, where people come legally on limited visas and disappear. There are measures we can take right now to deal with these problems.

If they’ve resorted to squatting in Calais, they’re seeking refuge. There are around 5000 migrants there; the fact that there are so few is a sign that our border controls are working. Calais does not equal easy entry; the word is out.  The facts, looked at rationally, mock the scaremongering.

The refugee crisis needs wider solutions and intergovernmental cooperation. It will take time to get a grip on this situation and tackle the causes rather than the symptoms.

We need to amend the 1951 UN Convention and the Geneva Convention to reduce the incentive and encourage legal immigration methods.

A vast intergovernmental, multi-agency effort must be implemented. Investment in the third world to facilitate economic development; building roads, railways and functioning ports, and developing societal institutions and supporting stable governance and property rights. We should build UN sanctioned asylum processing centres to encourage legitimate immigration processes.

We need to invest in Italy and Greece, so they can also take their fair share. At the moment they are not fit for purpose. Thus, the expectation for refugees to all stay in Southern Europe is unviable.

Despite received wisdom, there is no obligation under international law that requires refugees to seek asylum in any particular country. Why would they stay in Greece or South Italy where there are no jobs, facilities or infrastructure to deal with them? Would you?

With the political will we can implement solutions to this crisis, instead we’d rather turn a blind eye and allow the problem to suppurate. Let them get tear gassed and fester in squalor elsewhere.

Don’t judge the desperate people you see in our media, you have not lived their lives and do not face their choices. They are human beings with the same needs as you and I.

We cannot stick our heads in the sand and hope the world will go away, it is not going away. We need to take our fair share. The other option is to close the borders, let people rot and pretend it isn’t happening.

Is that the kind of country we want to be? Or do we want to lead, solve problems and help people?

Against – Christopher Manby

The idea that any country has a “fair share” of refugees is a sham concept, entirely devoid of meaning. What is a “fair share”? For that matter, what is a “refugee”?

A refugee is someone fleeing a mortal peril or danger. Whatever the merits of his or her case, the moment they cease to be in danger they are no longer a refugee.

There is nothing wrong with seeking a better life for yourself and your family. But there are at present tens of millions of people currently living in the Middle East and North Africa who would rather live somewhere else.

By rolling out the welcome mat, we give the green light to every desperate soul in search of a new home. Many die on the dangerous journey but many more are still willing to take the risk.

Around the world there are hundreds of millions who could claim to be victims of oppression. Are we going to invite them all into Europe and parcel out a “fair share” for Britain? That would be a staggering principle to set down.

It is striking that many of the migrants are healthy young men. Their wives, children, brothers, cousins and parents will presumably follow. Meanwhile, ISIS and other Islamic terrorist groups boast of smuggling thousands of would-be gunmen into the West.

Open borders allow so-called ‘refugees’ to come and go wherever they please. Britain is not a member of the EU’s Schengen open border system. But by exploiting Schengen, would-be migrants can make their way as far as Calais – where French authorities turn a blind eye to the activities of those sneaking into Britain.

The Prime Minister talks of Britain taking 20,000 refugees over five years. Almost as many are already encamped outside Calais. More still are arriving every day on the beaches of Greece and Italy. These inconvenient facts make a mockery of any notion of a “fair share”.

If more than that find their way in, will we deport them? Unlikely. UK membership of the European Convention on Human Rights makes it incredibly difficult to mount a deportation case and make it stick. Bad publicity would inevitably follow.

European ministers have already agreed to impose migrant quotas on EU member states, against the wishes of a clear majority in most European nations. Democratically elected leaders – like Hungary’s Victor Orban – who dare to back their own citizens against Brussels are demonised as racists and xenophobes.

The United Kingdom – along with Denmark and Ireland – are in theory exempt from this measure. Intense moral pressure will now be brought to bear on them to accept ‘voluntary’ quotas instead. The British government should resist that dangerous temptation.

Make no mistake. Europe is facing a wave of migration unprecedented in scale since the end of World War II. The faces of its peoples are in the process of being transformed forever. Whatever “fair share” comes to mean in the end, we should be allowed to decide for ourselves whether we want that or not.