BY ISSY SHANNON, UK Editor
As another recent wave of migrants have arrived on the British coast, taking life-threatening journeys, it begs the question: who are these people and whose responsibility are they?
There has been another spike in numbers of migrants arriving on the shores of Britain, particularly on the South coast after crossing the channel. So much so that over Christmas, Home Secretary Sajid Javid returned from his holiday and declared a ‘major incident’ after almost 250 people (men, women and children) arrived on the Kent Coast in small boats during November and December, including 40 people on Christmas Day.
The Home Secretary stated that the reasons for this influx are complicated and beyond our control and that because of this there is no easy solution. He suggests a holistic approach is needed, as he wrote that a response should be focused both in the UK and abroad. The idea that this is a problem beyond our control is one which raises the question – what is the cause? Are these people asylum seekers fleeing war-torn countries or migrants seeking a better life in the UK? Whatever their reason for travelling, the journey they are embarking upon is highly dangerous and so desperation must be a driving force behind the decision to risk their lives to get here. Should we, therefore, be sympathetic and remember, as the Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes stated: “It is really important to remember that we are dealing with people’s lives, people who have taken a terrible, terrible risk.”
Many of the migrants have been of Middle Eastern Origin, from Iran or Syria. A suggested reason may be because last year Serbia offered visa-free arrival into its country to Iranians. This was said to be a move to improve relations, tourism and trade between the two countries and it resulted in 40,000 Iranians flocking to the nation. This scheme however ended in October last year and left many Iranians displaced. Official numbers of migrants have not been released but many suspect that those now arriving on the shores of Britain are these Iranians seeking to come to Western Europe, who many have argued are economic migrants. As well as this, refugees from countries like Iraq and Syria have been fleeing their countries in a similar attempt to make it across Europe.
What then is an acceptable reason for leaving your home country in search of a better life – which is arguably what all these people are doing. Can we easily distinguish between those who should be allowed to seek a better life in Britain for themselves and their families and those who should not? Could it not be argued that anyone, despite where they are from, would do the same thing.
Even if the reason as to where or why these migrants are coming was known, it is indisputable that this is a crisis which cannot continue with people risking their lives. What then is the solution?
The Home Secretary has had talks with his French counterparts to try and prevent the illegal channel crossing, with many arguing the French border force have a responsibly to prevent these migrants attempting to make the crossing in the first place.
The Conservative MP for Dover Charlie Elphicke has accused the Home Secretary of letting the crisis get out of hand and has called for more patrol boats in the channel. Currently, a large proportion of British border force boats are stationed in the Mediterranean in an attempt to help migrants trying to cross.
The Immigration Minister has also stated that there is an ongoing intelligence-led operation attempting to deter people traffickers, as this is also a big cause as to why so many vulnerable people are attempting to cross.
This is a problem which has peaks and troughs but something which will only be fully solved if the problem is prevented at the root cause. But where and what is the root cause and how can it be prevented fully?