| David Cameron’s proposed immigration laws criticised by UN!

David Cameron’s proposed immigration laws criticised by UN ~ , The Telegraph.

A document released from the office the UN high commissioner for refugees claims that genuine asylum seekers could be damaged by the proposed rules.

Prime Minister David Cameron delivering a speech

David Cameron, the Prime Minister, has been criticised over his proposed changes to immigration laws Photo: REX

David Cameron’s proposed immigration laws could stigmatise foreigners and create a “climate of ethnic profiling”, the UN refugee agency has said.

The immigration bill could deny housing to those in desperate need and damage communities, according to a highly critical document from the office of Antonio Guterres, the UN high commissioner for refugees.

The commission has expressed concern that legal refugees and asylum seekers will get caught up in the proposed new laws, which are designed to crack down on illegal immigrants.

In a briefing note to MPs about the paper, seen by the Guardian, the agency states that the provisions “appear likely to result in asylum seekers, refugees and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection being stigmatised in the public mind and in their being denied access to housing and bank accounts.”

They warn that the measures “could contribute toward a climate of misunderstanding and ethnic profiling” which in the long term could prove detrimental to social cohesion”.

The UN also called on the international community to offer not only humanitarian aid for refugees, but also resettlement opportunities outside the country, and Labour is urging the Government to accept 400-500 Syrians, including torture victims, women and girls at high risk and people with family links to the UK.

After the report was released, Labour called on the Government to take in hundreds of Syrian refugees fleeing the fighting which has ravaged the Middle Eastern state for almost three years.

But ministers insist that Britain can best help by providing funds to assist those affected by the long-running civil war both inside Syria and in neighbouring states like Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq.

The Home Office said Britain’s £500 million of official aid to Syria was the UK’s largest ever response to a humanitarian crisis, almost equalling the total given by the other 27 EU countries combined. Some £217 million is being spent inside Syria and £236 million in neighbouring countries.

Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said that Britain should join some 16 nations, including the USA, France and Germany, which have agreed to allow a total of more than 10,000 Syrians to move to their countries.

Ms Cooper told The Independent: “We should be rightly proud of our humanitarian aid effort and the generosity of the British people. But we should also do our part, alongside other countries within the UN’s programme, to provide a safe haven for some of the most vulnerable Syrian refugees fleeing this murderous conflict.

“The British Government cannot turn its back on these people. It is our moral duty to respond to the UN’s call for help for Syrian refugees – just as our country has helped those fleeing persecution for hundreds of years.”

Australia is understood to be planning to take in 500 Syrians for permanent resettlement and Sweden 400, while Germany will allow 5,000 temporary “humanitarian admissions” and France 500. The US has not set an upper limit.

The Refugee Council said only about 0.1% of Syrians displaced by the fighting have found refuge in the UK, and is urging people to send a message to Prime Minister David Cameron that “we must play our part in providing a safe haven for the most vulnerable fleeing the war”.

Antonio Guterres, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, has said: “It is not only financial, economic, and technical support … which is needed.

“It also includes receiving through resettlement, humanitarian admission, family reunification or similar mechanisms, refugees who are today in the neighbouring countries but who can find a solution outside the region.”

Immigration minister Mark Harper insisted that the Government is “committed to playing a leading part in the international relief effort”.

In a letter to the Labour MP Meg Hillier, Mr Harper said the UK was contributing £400,000 to a £10.5 million European Union regional development and protection programme.

“I believe such initiatives should be our focus, rather than the resettlement or providing ‘humanitarian evacuation’ to displaced Syrians – initiatives which provide only limited relief to the neighbouring countries given the overall scale of the crisis they are facing,” he wrote.

“I do not oppose other states choosing to offer humanitarian admission or resettlement to displaced Syrians. However, in my view, this should not be the focus of activity at present and is not the best way for the UK to make a difference.”



| AID NOT BOMBS: UN refugee agency says more than 2m have fled Syria!

UN refugee agency says more than 2m have fled Syria ~ BBC.

More than two million Syrians are now refugees, with the total going up by a million in six months, the UN says.

At least 700,000 have fled to Lebanon, and more Syrians are now displaced than any other nationality, the UNHCR says.

France and the US are continuing to push for military action over alleged chemical weapons use by Syrian forces.

There are suggestions that President Barack Obama may be planning much wider action than the limited strikes that have been publicly proposed.

The reports emerged as senior US politicians were set to speak before a congressional committee, to rally support for intervention.

‘Haemorrhaging’ people

The UNHCR said in a statement on Tuesday: “Syria is haemorrhaging women, children and men who cross borders often with little more than the clothes on their backs.”

Around half of those forced to leave are children, UN agencies estimate, with about three-quarters of them under 11.

Just 118,000 refugee children have been able to continue in some sort of education, and only one-fifth have received some sort of counselling, with agencies warning of a “lost generation” of child refugees ill-equipped to help rebuild Syria in the future.

Lebanon has received the highest number of refugees, even though it is the smallest of Syria’s neighbours and one of the least able to cope.

There is now thought to be one Syrian refugee in Lebanon to roughly every six Lebanese. Jordan and Turkey have taken in the second and third highest numbers respectively.

Where Syrian refugees are

  • 716,000 in Lebanon
  • 515,000 in Jordan
  • 460,000 in Turkey
  • 169,000 in Iraq
  • 111,000 in Egypt
  • 4.25 million others displaced inside Syria

( Source UNHCR)

As well as those who have left the country, a further 4.25 million have been displaced within Syria, the UNHCR says, meaning that more Syrians are now forcibly displaced than is the case with any other country.

Pointing out that more than 97% of Syria’s refugees are being hosted by countries in the surrounding region, the UNHCR said the influx was “placing an overwhelming burden on their infrastructures, economies and societies”.

It once again appealed for “massive international support” to help neighbouring countries deal with the crisis.

International aid agencies are also struggling to cope with the crisis, having only 47% of funds required to meet “basic refugee needs”, the UNHCR says.

“It took two years to reach the first million refugees. It took six months for the second million to be reached,” the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, told the BBC.

Antonio Guterres: “It’s the biggest displacement crisis of all time”

He said officials could envisage three million refugees by the end of 2013.

One of the biggest single waves of refugees occurred in mid-August, when thousands from north-eastern Syria poured over the border into Iraqi Kurdistan.

Iraq has the fourth largest population of Syrian refugees, with over 170,000.

The UN says the conflict in Syria has caused the world’s worst refugee crisis for 20 years, with numbers not seen since the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

More than 100,000 people are thought to have died since the uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad began in March 2011.

‘Munich moment’The US and French governments are pushing for a military strike in reaction to what they say was a chemical weapons attack carried out by Syrian government forces on the outskirts of Damascus on 21 August.

The US has put the death toll at 1,429, including 426 children.

US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel, Secretary of State John Kerry and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen Martin Dempsey are due to appear later before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

They are trying to muster support for military intervention in Syria in the run-up to a vote in Congress expected next week.

On Monday a senior state department official told a gathering of Democrat politicians that a vote against military action would be America’s “Munich moment”, referring to the 1938 Munich Agreement which was seen as British and French appeasement of Nazi Germany before World War II.

The Obama administration’s document seeking Congress authorisation to conduct military strikes speaks of sending “a clear signal of American resolve”, aiming “to deter, disrupt, prevent and degrade the potential for future uses of chemical weapons or other weapons of mass destruction”.

Many analysts had assumed the strikes would be fairly limited in scope. But this may not be the case, according to Gen Jack Kean, a retired US Army vice-chief of staff who spoke to key Republican senators after they had been briefed at the White House on Monday.

He told the BBC that the senators had been “encouraged by what the president has told them in terms of the scale of robustness of what he intends to do” – and that they had been given the indication that strikes would go far beyond targeting the regime’s alleged chemical weapons.

“I think two things are central to what’s going to happen: he’s going to deter and degrade – and the important word is degrade – significant military capability of [Syrian President] Assad’s regime,” Gen Kean told the BBC.

Mr Obama already appears to have won the support of two of his fiercest foreign policy critics, Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham.

Mr McCain told reporters on Monday that a congressional vote against strike action “would be catastrophic in its consequences” for US credibility abroad.

‘Illogical’ attackFrench leaders, like their US counterparts, are pushing for military action.

Instead of being welcomed in jihadist ranks, the prospect [of a strike] has triggered alarm and confusion there and amongst other Islamist groups”




image of Frank Gardner
Frank GardnerBBC security correspondent

A report presented to the French parliament by Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault on Monday said the 21 August attack “could not have been ordered and carried out by anyone but the Syrian government”.

The report said the assault involved the “massive use of chemical agents”.

In an interview with French newspaper Le Figaro, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad denied being behind the attack, saying it would have been “illogical”.

He warned that foreign military action could ignite a wider regional conflict.

Nato Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen also said on Monday that he was personally convinced a chemical attack took place and that the Assad government was responsible.

While saying he did not expect Nato to be involved in any action, he said there must be “a firm international response” to deter any future use of such weapons or else it would send a “dangerous signal to dictators all over the world”.

Syria is known to have extensive supplies of chemical weapons.

map of Syria

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| AID NOT BOMBS: Every 15 seconds, a #Syrian becomes a refugee!