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Refugees deserve an organised and compassionate EU response to their needs

REFUGEES WELCOMEThe ongoing humanitarian crisis unfolding in Europe draws attention to Member States doing the very least in response to the biggest refugee crisis since the Second World War. As the world looks on, we are seeing more efforts to seal off borders within the EU as opposed to upholding human dignity – we urgently need a pan European response. It is important that we on the left continue to apply pressure on Governments across the EU, including the UK, to take their share of responsibility.

A reported 10,000 have gone missing since last year, this is a truly shameful figure which will only increase if Member States continue to drag their feet with regard to implementing the necessary policies to address humanitarian challenges and provide more safe and legal routes to Europe.  

Across the EU, there are glaring examples of the failure of policy which has enhanced the suffering and vulnerability of many, most notably unaccompanied children. In Calais, the situation continues to deteriorate following the evictions and dismantling of the refugee camp. Meanwhile, the UK government continues to ignore its responsibilities to alleviate the suffering of those stuck in Calais. Moreover, in Greece we have seen the result of Member States opting to close their borders to people fleeing conflict and in need of international protection. The humanitarian situation increases as Greece struggles to accommodate the thousands of refugees stuck in the country; the ring-fencing of refugees is not a policy that governments should be pursuing in 2016.

In Jeremy Corbyn the Labour Party has a leader who is unashamed to tackle these issues head on and to suggest a compassionate organised way forward, as he did in Calais recently.

The failure to have in place an organised and compassionate response has also coincided with the rise of the far-right and xenophobia particularly towards Muslims. Now, more than ever, we on the left must unite and work closely with NGOs and civil society to ensure solidarity and cooperation are central to the response to the refugee crisis. Moreover, we must defend European values which are under threat from far-right populists.

The Refugees Welcome Here demonstration on Saturday serves as a great opportunity for the left to counter racist speech towards refugees and defend solidarity and respect of diversity. As a Labour MEP for London and former Director of JCWI (Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants), I remain committed to defending and promoting the rights of refugees and migrants.



  1. David Pavett says:

    Articles like this make my heart sink.

    We have a major demographic and humanitarian crisis before us and what does Claude Moraes propose that we do? We should

    … have in place an organised and compassionate response …

    … counter racist speech towards refugees and defend solidarity and respect of diversity.

    And finally we should

    … remain committed to defending and promoting the rights of refugees and migrants.

    Is it possible to see in this anything other than pure waffle? Claude Moraes is a Labour MEP. What specific policy proposals does he and the Labour Group have? I turned to their website were it is completely impossible to work out what is going on. All the statements I looked at carried no date so I could not tell what they were responding to and at what stage in the development of the crisis. Do they care if this stuff is of no help?

    I also turned to the website of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants for which Moraes says he was a former director. They have nothing on the crisis either. By the time I had read the article and looked up a couple of places for further information I was hopping mad.

    1. J.P. Craig-Weston says:

      There’s hope for you yet.

  2. The welfare of Middle East refugees is not necessarily maximized by bringing them to Europe, which seems to be a common assumption. The choice of policy tools cannot be the result of a snap judgment. On the contrary, it must be the outcome of rational and informed debate on the economics, finance, politics and logistics of refugee support. The location where refugee welfare will be maximized cannot be determined a priori, but is instead a variable dependent on many factors, most of which are known only to specialists.
    Consequently, without any prior informed debate on the various policy alternatives available, it is folly to start officiously urging technocratic proposals, relying solely on common sense, traditional recipes or on moral principles.
    Moraes’ humane proposal is commendable. It seems to involve mass migration. Refugee migration can alleviate much suffering. However it is no secret that migration sometimes – perhaps more often than we realize — can result in hidden costs, paid not least by long-standing residents of the land of destination.
    I need only point to the great damage done to American blacks as a group by the plentiful 3rd-world immigration into the US over the last few decades. A research report published by the US National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) demonstrates that this immigration has meant unemployment and social decline for American blacks and often their descent into the criminal underclass. According to the report, the currently high rate of incarceration of US blacks is directly attributable to US immigration policy, which, I point out, is a capitalist tool for reducing real wages.
    Likewise immigration from Moslem countries to Europe has presumably brought advantages, but also costs. Moslem immigration is often accompanied by an increase in anti-Semitism. Jewish Holocaust survivors living in Malmö, Sweden, report that schools no longer invite them to tell pupils their stories of persecution, since the Moslem schoolchildren routinely dismiss, ignore and belittle any suffering allegedly undergone by Jews. See Wikipedia article Anti-Semitism in Sweden.
    To me it seems utopian and inconsistent with rational politics to advocate policies that are traditionally associated with substantial drawbacks for segments of the population, without even mentioning such issues, let alone proposing means to attenuate such unwanted side-effects.
    This attitude reminds me of people who advocate vigorous economic growth while ignoring the need to mitigate its environmental consequences through cleaner technology, altering consumption patterns, etc. As a matter of fact growth-at-all-costs ideology is strongly associated with right-wing crackpots, such as the Club for Growth in the US. Accordingly, in view of their similarly reckless methodology, I wonder whether zealous advocates of immigration come hell or high water are perhaps nothing but closet right-wing crackpots too.

  3. David Ellis says:

    Crap article.

    Still nothing on Labour and the Referendum. This is past embarrassing and into silly now.

    1. J.P. Craig-Weston says:

      But even crap articles are better than no articles ?

      Although Jon Lansman’s pompous and self important interdict on any and all comments on David Osland’s inevitably provocative and contentious article on antisemitism in the Labor party was both unwelcome and not a little fascist, personally I’d have liked to have read what people actually had to say on the topic and then judged their responses for myself.

      1. David Ellis says:

        No, articles like this are worse than crap. They are lies.

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