UK and EU have failed to meet their own unambitious targets
A year after the death of three-year-old Alan Kurdi, UK and EU leaders have been slammed for their failure to respond to the refugee crisis.
When images of Alan’s body were printed and broadcast around the world, a wave of public outrage forced governments, including Britain’s, to promise more meaningful action.
Across most of Europe, the pledges were disappointingly modest, with EU leaders agreeing to resettle 120,000 refugees from Greece and Italy, and David Cameron agreeing to admit 4,000 refugees a year to Britain until 2020.
However, even these unambitious targets are not being met and progress on EU relocations has stalled.
The Guardian reports that just over 5,000 refugees have been relocated from Greece, rather than the 66,400 promised, anti-migrant sentiment continues to surge across Europe and refugees continue to endure appalling conditions in camps in Greece and Italy.
The British government opted-out of the EU resettlement scheme, and despite Cameron’s promise, less than 3,000 refugees have been relocated to Britain in the last year, and no unaccompanied child migrants have been relocated following the acceptance of the Dubs Amendment three months ago.
‘Our thoughts today must be with Aylan Kurdi’s family, and with other families who have lost children in the refugee crisis,’ Yvette Cooper, chair of Labour’s refugee taskforce commented today, calling on the government to stop dragging its feet.
“The global response and Europe’s response to the refugee crisis is still falling far short, and terrible conflicts and persecution that drive families from their homes continue.
Britain is providing important support to help child refugees in camps near Syria. But the system for helping child refugees in Europe is failing badly and the British Government is failing to deliver the programmes it announced.
Less than 3,000 of the 20,000 Syrian refugees promised resettlement have arrived in the UK, and shamefully – not one child refugee has been brought to the UK from Greece, Italy or France as was promised when Parliament voted for Alf Dubs’ amendment over 3 months ago.
In Calais, as security worsens over 700 unaccompanied children are living at constant risk from trafficking, violence and abuse. And even children and teenagers with family in the UK are subject to long and dangerous bureaucratic delays.”
Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron, who has been outspoken about the need for Britain to do more to help refugees, also issued a statement this morning.
“Aylan Kurdi’s tragic, avoidable death shook the world one year ago and forced David Cameron to pay attention to the refugee crisis on Europe’s shores.
A year on, the government’s pledge to help families like Alain’s has not been delivered on, and too many children continue to die in the Mediterranean.
Campaigners like myself are demanding that the government act now and help these desperate children. Their inaction shames our country, and discredits our proud history of helping those who have lost everything and are in desperate need of our help.”
Later this month, Barack Obama will host a UN leader’s summit on refugees, which aims to galvanise significant new global commitments to humanitarian funding and greater acceptance of refugees.
Ahead of the summit, a Refugees Welcome Here demonstration is being organised in central London.Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.