David Cameron’s proposed immigration laws criticised by UN ~ Hayley Dixon, 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.
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.”
- ‘No room at the inn’: Britain says no to Syria’s refugees (independent.co.uk)
- By the numbers: UN’s Syrian refugee appeal (+video) – Christian Science Monitor (csmonitor.com)
- UK immigration bill could create ‘climate of ethnic profiling’ – UNHCR (oddonion.com)
- David Cameron acting shortsightedly over immigration, says Lech Walesa (theguardian.com)
- Importing Jihad: US will allow thousands of Syrian Refugees into the United States (atlasshrugs2000.typepad.com)
- David Cameron: ‘Mandela set an example’ (disclose.tv)
- 20% people in Lebanon are Syrian refugees: UNHCR (theiranproject.com)
- UNHCR receives €63 million for Syrian crisis from EU (unhcr.org)
- David Cameron’s proposed immigration laws criticised by UN (telegraph.co.uk)
- UN makes record Syria appeal to avert ‘greatest humanitarian crisis in history’ (telegraph.co.uk)