By Opher Goodwin
It is obvious that we cannot allow an unrestricted stream of refugees and asylum seekers into the country.
We have to provide a mechanism to deal with this stream of people.
There are many reasons why we have such a large number of refugees (much of it due to our own fault):
War refugees (from Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria, Iraq and now Ukraine ….. wars that we created or sponsored);
Colonial refugees from the likes of China;
Political/Social refugees fleeing from tyrannical states from whom they might be persecuted, tortured or executed (for political, religious or social reasons – (such as being gay));
Environmental refugees fleeing countries suffering from intolerable heat, crop failures, drought etc.;
Economic refugees looking to move to a country that is more prosperous with more prospects for their family.
We have created a world that is hugely unequal. There are many reasons why that inequality has arisen – colonialism, conquest through war, economic exploitation, greed, privilege…… some of these issues are global. We have a wealthy, privileged class in most countries. These peoples’ greed means that they seize an enormous portion of the nations’ wealth resulting in mass poverty. Corruption in many badly run countries greatly exacerbates the problems.
In my view:
In the Short Term, we need a system to deal with this problem. Out of compassion, we need a system that provides sanctuary for certain people seeking asylum – historically we have always provided a safe haven for those persecuted people fleeing persecution. The criteria need to be legally described and a process put in place to apply these criteria fairly. I believe that has been done. Britain is a cosmopolitan, multiracial country and all the better for it.
We need to set up a rapid system where people awaiting processing can be properly housed and quickly processed.
We need to work with other countries (the EU and others) to enable all this to work smoothly.
We need to return unsuccessful applicants to the countries they came from.
In the Longer Term, we need to tackle the problems that are creating these huge migrations:
We need to put a stop to all wars!
We need to reverse global warming and climate change.
We need to provide global aid to all those suffering short-term catastrophes.
We need to reduce the world population so that we do not have massive population explosions that cannot be supported.
We have to reduce the obscene level of inequality so that we do not have these distressing levels of poverty and all people have a positive standard of living.
We need to globally address the environmental degradation that is leading to climate change and a crisis in biodiversity.
In my opinion:
Turning a blind eye to the situations we have created (through war, colonialism, exploitation and global warming) is immoral.
Trying to farm out the problem to other countries is immoral.
Sending refugees to some African state with very dubious human rights records (such as Rwanda) at huge cost is immoral.
Deliberately making it difficult to apply for asylum and making the process lengthy and difficult is immoral.
Deliberately creating terrible conditions for refugees (as a deterrent to others) is immoral.
This is a complex problem with no easy answers. Trying to sweep it under the carpet or using nasty tactics to dissuade refugees is not the answer.