No Quick Fix To Migrant Crisis Says Priti Patel As UK Urged To Set Up Safe Asylum Routes

Priti Patel said there is “no quick fix” to the migrant crisis, after “at least 27 people lost their lives” trying to cross the Channel yesterday.

But the Home Secretary suggested the Nationality and Borders Bill will be the long-term solution to the issue and urged MPs to back the new legislation as this would "send a clear message that crossing the Channel in this lethal way in a small boat is not the way to come to our country.”

However, Amnesty International said that "these dangerous journeys take place because the Government provides no safe alternative for people to exercise their right to seek asylum here".

Steve Valdez-Symonds, Amnesty International UK’s refugee and migrant rights director, said: “If the Government is truly concerned with tackling these gangs and their abuse of people, they must set up safe asylum routes, so people no longer need to depend on smugglers.”

And an international criminal law and human rights at law firm has said that the Nationality and Borders Bill will allow people to break international law, by providing immunity to those who would let people drown at sea.

Nonetheless, the Home Secretary has suggested that Afghan refugees already brought to the UK need to be settled before Britain accepts more people fleeing from the country.

Making a statement to MPs on the “tragic drownings” in the Channel, Ms Patel said: “What happened yesterday was a dreadful shock, it was not a surprise but it is also a reminder of how vulnerable people are put at peril when in the hands of criminal gangs.

“There is also no quick fix. This is about addressing long-term pull factors, smashing the criminal gangs that treat human beings as cargo and tackling supply chains.”

"Crossing the Channel in this lethal way in a small boat is not the way to come to this country."

The Home Secretary emphasised the UK needs to work with other countries to tackle the small boats crisis, as she told MPs how many had already been stopped this year.

Ms Patel said: “We cannot do it alone. We continue to work closely with the French to prevent crossings. More than 20,000 have been stopped this year, which I think all members of this House should recognise the magnitude and the scale of the illegal migration crisis we are seeing.

“We have dismantled 17 organised criminal groups and secured over 400 arrests and 65 convictions.

“But this crisis continues, clearly demonstrating we need to do more together. This is a complicated issue and there is no simple fix. It does need a Herculean effort and it will be impossible without close co-operation between all international partners and agencies.”

She also urged MPs to support the Nationality and Borders Bill, saying: “As we mourn those who have died in the most horrendous of circumstances, I hope that the whole House can come together to send a clear message that crossing the Channel in this lethal way in a small boat is not the way to come to our country.”

The Home Secretary earlier said she was glad French President Emmanuel Macron had “indicated his determination to stop the vile people smuggling gangs” and to work closely with all partners across Europe.

She told MPs: “I’ve literally just spoken again with my French counterpart Minister Darmanin and I’ve once again reached out and made my offer very clear to France in terms of joint France and UK co-operation, joint patrols to prevent these dangerous journeys from taking place.

“I’ve offered to work with France to put officers on the ground and do absolutely whatever is necessary to secure the area so that vulnerable people do not risk their lives by getting into unseaworthy boats.”

Ms Patel added there is a “global illegal migration crisis” before adding: “These journeys across the Channel are absolutely unnecessary.”

Priti Patel said it was a “complete myth and fallacy” to suggest the UK should not look at all options to deal with the migrant crisis, including stopping boats entering territorial waters.

Ms Patel spoke of her observations of Frontex – the EU border agency – including their surveillance work and border patrols.

She told MPs: “They are even supporting activity in the Mediterranean in terms of stopping boats entering territorial waters illegally, I’ve seen those patrols myself.

“So it’s a complete myth and fallacy to say that we shouldn’t look at all options. We are and we will continue to do so.”

Afghan refugees already brought to the UK need to be settled before Britain accepts more people fleeing the country, the Home Secretary has suggested.

In a question to Priti Patel as MPs discussed immigration, Labour MP Lilian Greenwood (Nottingham South) said: “We still don’t know when the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme will be operational or how those who are outside of the UK will be able to access it. Please can the Home Secretary tell us today?”

Ms Patel said: “With Operation Pitting, we evacuated 15,000 people. We are still in the process of trying to resettle them and in terms of resettling more people from Afghanistan, I know the cases are coming through.

“We are trying to make sure we can bring people forward, that we can get them settled rather than what we have seen sadly… being put into hotels, inadequate accommodation, and we need them in the community.”

Shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said “yesterday’s human tragedy in the Channel was the most awful of reminders of the dangers of crossing the Channel”.

He asked the Home Secretary about the existing surveillance capacity and what she will be doing to “increase that surveillance”.

On “properly managed safe and legal routes”, he added: “Can I ask specifically about the Dubs Scheme. The Dubs Scheme was closed down having helped only 480 unaccompanied children rather than the 3,000 that it expected to help. Will that scheme be urgently reinstated?”

Mr Thomas-Symonds went on: “Then there is the UK Resettlement Scheme that was announced in February of this year, and today the Government has released the statistics on this.

“It shows that in its first year only 770 people have been helped by that scheme, and taken with other schemes, it is only 1,171 people who have been helped to the end of September, when the promise from the Home Office was to help 5,000 people in its first year."

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Steve Valdez-Symonds, Amnesty International UK’s refugee and migrant rights director, urged the Government to “urgently take decisive action to prevent more loss of life” and said a new approach to asylum is “desperately needed”.

He said: “The UK must make it a priority to share responsibility with other countries to receive people into its asylum system – they must do this by providing safe and legal routes and encourage others to do the same.

“We must remember that dangerous journeys take place because the Government provides no safe alternative for people to exercise their right to seek asylum here.

“The Afghanistan Citizenship Resettlement Scheme is one example of the Government’s fundamental failure to provide safe routes – a scheme announced in August that has still not opened – ministers cannot even guarantee it will open any time soon.

“The UK’s failure to play its part in providing protection to people who are fleeing conflict and persecution is even more distressing at a time when the Home Office is trying to push through its draconian Nationality and Borders Bill. This new policy will further exacerbate the asylum system and continue to punish and exclude people seeking safety.

“If the Government is truly concerned with tackling these gangs and their abuse of people, they must set up safe asylum routes, so people no longer need to depend on smugglers.”

Rebecca Niblock, a specialist in international criminal law and human rights at law firm Kingsley Napley, said: “Boris Johnson’s suggestion that the tragic deaths in the Channel show the necessity of accelerating the measures within the Nationality and Borders Bill is a disingenuous claim.

“While international law imposes a duty to rescue persons in distress at sea, the Nationality and Borders Bill seeks to provide immunity to those who fail to comply with their duties under international law.

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“In practice it will protect border officials engaged in pushing back boats in the Channel whose actions could result in deaths at sea.

“Rather than enacting these provisions, the Government must provide safe routes for migrants seeking refuge in the UK.”

“Boris Johnson’s suggestion that the tragic deaths in the Channel show the necessity of accelerating the measures within the Nationality and Borders Bill is a disingenuous claim.

“While international law imposes a duty to rescue persons in distress at sea, the Nationality and Borders Bill seeks to provide immunity to those who fail to comply with their duties under international law.

“In practice it will protect border officials engaged in pushing back boats in the Channel whose actions could result in deaths at sea.

“Rather than enacting these provisions, the Government must provide safe routes for migrants seeking refuge in the UK.”

The Bishop of Dover has spoken about her “rage” after the deaths of at least 27 migrants in the English Channel and called for the issue of migration to stop being used as a “political football”.

The Right Rev Rose Hudson-Wilkin, a former chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons, told BBC Radio Kent: “I am feeling a deep inner rage that the world continues to allow this to happen, couched with political rhetoric as to whose fault it is.

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“This is all our fault, we must all take responsibility.

“This is not something that should be left to one or two countries so we can throw blame backwards and forward – this is an international crisis, people are dying, and people are desperate.”

The Church of England cleric added: “This is solvable – there is enough money in the world. What we now need is the will, what we need is the compassion for others.

“We have got to stop playing political football.”

However, a Conservative MP suggested the Human Rights Act (HRA) should be scrapped to allow for a change in immigration and asylum policy following the deaths of migrants in the Channel on Wednesday.

Conservative MP Scott Benton told the Commons: “The tragic loss of life in the Channel yesterday underlines why we need to do everything possible to make these dangerous routes unviable. There is nothing compassionate or moral about allowing criminal gangs to exploit vulnerable people.

“The Leader of the House has already mentioned the Borders Bill but I fear that we won’t be able to gain back full control of our immigration and asylum policy unless we scrap the Human Rights Act.”

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The Blackpool South MP asked for a parliamentary debate “on alternatives to the HRA”.

Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg said “concerns” about the Human Rights Act had been a “theme” during the session of Business Questions.

He said: “We must be able to govern ourselves in this country in a way that secures safety and wellbeing for people trying to come here and people who are already here.

“I would remind honourable and right honourable members that this place is sovereign and we are always able to amend any and all acts of Parliament if we can get a majority for it in both Houses. And that is I think of fundamental constitutional importance.”

French President Emmanuel Macron said he is going to ask for extra help from Britain over the migrant crisis.

He said: “We are going to ask for extra help from the British because all these men and these women don’t want to stay in France. We tell them they’re obviously able to do so, and there are centres in Calais and Dunkirk where they can go, but we’re going to reinforce in fact saving them at sea.

“But basically… we’ve got to develop things in a far stronger way, we’ve got to reinforce co-operation – co-operation (with) Belgium, Holland, Germany, but also Britain and the (EU) Commission.

“So that’s the decision that’s been made… a series of meetings will… take place with the Home Office minister in the next hours, in the next days.

“We want to better integrate also the British to prevent these flows by dismantling the networks of… we’ve done so in the last few weeks.”

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Source : https://www.coventrytelegraph.net/news/uk-world-news/no-quick-fix-migrant-crisis-22274579

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