Refugee Crisis: How Can We Make a Difference?

Alison Phipps, Principal Investigator of the RM@Borders project and Co-Convenor of the Glasgow Refugee Asylum and Migration Network writes 10 points on how the Government and the EU could address the Refugee Crisis in The National.  A copy of the piece is below.

The original editorial published on Saturday 5th September can be accessed here: http://www.thenational.scot/comment/refugee-crisis-how-should-the-government-and-the-eu-address-it-a-10-point-plan-by-alison-phipps.7223 

  1. Show real leadership and utter determination to take us back from the brink of dehumanising, beginning with the decision to use accurate and humane language about people. Refugees. People with names.
  2. Suspend the Dublin III Directive which means people largely claim asylum where they land in Europe. Instead, as the German Chancellor has already, institute a fair sharing calculated by head of population and GDP.
  3. Reinstate Mare Nostrum, Italy’s highly successful rescue operation, and drop all reference to people needing to be deterred from coming to Europe from war-torn areas and countries affected by human rights abuses. Most refugees come to us from Syria and Eritrea. These are not countries to which UNHCR or other agents believe anyone can return until the war and persecution is over.
  4. Create safe corridors to Europe. The biggest problem is that the routes out of danger are all death-traps and characterised as “illegal”. No human being is illegal and the only way in now, with Europe’s law and UK’s laws, for the most part is to travel without documents or with false documents.
  5. Far too many people are arbitrarily refused their asylum claims which later they are given on appeal. Require all Home Office staff to instate a “culture of belief”, welcome to those coming to us and take pride in this humanitarian work.
  6. End the practice of detention. It’s not just time for a time-limit but for an end to detention. It hinders good decision-making
  7. End sanctions and the deliberate impoverishment of those whose claims are awaiting decision or appeal and ensure that they have their basic human needs met. Resource all the NGOs and small organisations of good will, to meet the needs and restore dignity to those making their claims.
  8. Revoke the Immigration Acts which have denied many access to justice, and reinstate legal aid where this has been removed. The rule of law is not something to set aside for administrative convenience or to achieve arbitrary targets with people’s lives.
  9. Publicly and humbly admit that what the polices and decision-making in the EU and UK have led to are the deaths and suffering of refugees trying to reach safety; that we have turned from important human values and that we must now be changed by this and take responsibility for actions.
  10. Be changed by relationship. David Cameron may like to consider taking a refugee family into Downing Street to live with his own family, making the relationships meaningful. I say this as someone who has done this.

Alison also spoke on BBC Radio Scotland “Sunday Morning With…” regarding the plight of Syrian refugees and how this has become one of the over-arching moral issues we’re now facing. The show is available on BBC iPlayer  until the end of September 2015 at http://bbc.in/1NgOqen.  Alison’s segment is at time marker 1:05 – 1:27.

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