From daily The Morning Star in Britain:
8 March 2016
The Prime Minister boasts of our country’s “rock-solid opt-out” from the Schengen agreement on open borders in the European Union, insisting that “there is no prospect of Britain joining a common asylum process in Europe.”
Not wishing the EU to take control of Britain’s borders should not equate to turning our backs on millions of refugees forced from their homeland by war and poverty.
If Britain is still the fifth or sixth biggest economy in the world, it is capable of offering succour to many more refugees than the government has already agreed to accept.
To offer asylum to just 20,000 Syrian refugees by 2020 is to enshrine inhumanity in government policy.
To try to justify such a pittance by suggesting that Britain is overcrowded, has too many problems of its own to worry about and is incapable of taking on the worries of the world speaks of a selfishness that should be an anathema to any country claiming to be civilised.
How shameful this is when compared with the response of Syria’s neighbours, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, which are sheltering 1.4 million, 1m and 2.6m refugees respectively.
Within Syria itself, 6.5m people have been displaced and have sought protection from foreign-financed jihadi death squads, mainly in government-controlled areas.
Britain and many fellow EU member states believe they have the right to rampage across Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya and other countries while accepting no responsibility for the problems that such conflicts generate.
Germany, which frets about future economic problems due to an ageing population and low birth rate, took a different path, opening its borders to all refugees before reversing that position following far-right-organised xenophobic protests.
Other EU states, especially new entrants in eastern and south-eastern Europe, have simply refused to accept dispersal of refugees after EU summits agreed to do precisely that.
They have closed borders, building barbed-wire fences as a means of concentrating new refugee numbers on Greece, which has already been bled dry by the EU and its ECB central bank at the behest of foreign private banks.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has demanded immediate relocation of refugees throughout the EU and proposed financial penalties for member states that have reneged on commitments to accept these desperate people.
It beggars belief, given Greece’s recent experiences, that Tsipras maintains his naive assumption that the EU is motivated somehow by international solidarity.
As far as the rest of the EU is concerned, refugees from war-torn western Asia and north Africa can remain in Greece or, better still, in Turkey.
Rather than show some humanity for the plight of those fleeing war, Cameron prefers to deploy the Royal Navy in the eastern Mediterranean, ostensibly to counter people-trafficking gangsters but in reality to discourage desperate people from entering Europe.
The rich EU core wants Turkey to clamp down on opportunists offering flimsy vessels to transfer refugees onto outlying Greek islands, dangling £3 billion as an inducement that has not so far materialised.
Ankara will drive a hard bargain, wanting visa-free travel to the EU for its citizens and revived negotiations to join the bloc on top of financial inducements.
Europe’s political elite should be ashamed of its failure to prioritise the needs of people forced into extreme measures to save themselves and their families over narrow self-interest.
Saving people’s lives and offering them a chance to build their future has to be the priority.
The 28 European Union member states worked out a deal at a special summit with Turkey on Monday that would make it even more difficult for the millions of people fleeing the wars in the Middle East to enter Europe: here.