Zero draft of the outcome document for the UN Summit to adopt the Post-2015 Development Agenda
Peter Sutherland criticises UK for taking fewer refugees in Mediterranean migrant crisis than Germany and Sweden
By Ben Riley-Smith, Political Correspondent
|A crowded boat of immigrants during one of the rescue operations off the coast of Sicily in this picture Photo: AFP/GETTY IMAGES|
Britain should take in its fair share of migrants stranded after crossing the Mediterranean, a United Nations representative on immigration has said in a critical intervention.
Peter Sutherland, UN special representative of the secretary-general for international migration, said the UK was taking far less refugees caught in the boat migration crisis than Germany or Sweden.
He warned against creating “xenophobia and racism” by failing to engage positively with the problem and said British politicians have not made the case for letting in migrants.
It comes after the Foreign Office announced last year the government was removing its support of search and rescue missions in the Mediterranean.
Since the crisis escalated Britain has sent HMS Bulwark, which has helped save the lives of thousands of migrants fleeing North Africa.
But the government plans to fight a new European Commission quota that would more than double the numbers of people accepted by the UK to over 60,000 a year.
|David Cameron has been under pressure over whether Britain is doing enough to help those caught in the Mediterranean migrant crisis|
Speaking in an interview on BBC Radio Four, Mr Sutherland said those travelling across the Mediterranean should be granted asylum as they were escaping persecution at home.
“In the case of Eritreia or for that matter in the case of Syira perhaps nearly all of those who have left are people who are persecuted or facing persecution and therefore entitled to remain in the country of destination that they end up in in Europe,” Mr Sutherland said.
“At the moment there is a huge disparity in the numbers that different countries are taking. On any basis the Germans and the Swedes are taking far more per capita than the United Kingdom and a fair settlement of this issue on the basis of objective criteria – population, GDP, unemployment, whatever issues you think may be appropriate – seems to be a reasonable way of dealing with this.
He said there is a “greater degree of negativity” towards migration in Britain than elsewhere and put it down to the fact that “the case has never been properly explained”.
|Thousands of migrants have been risking their lives by crossing the Mediterranean in poor quality boats to escape political turmoil in North Africa|
Mr Sutherland said in Britain 79 per cent of migrants are working, with a lower unemployment rate than the rest of society, and their contribution “sometimes seems to be ignored”.
“Migration is something which won’t go away, it is something that we have to constructively engage with and not something that we should fear or that should create xenophobia and racism as it does in many societies around the world,” he warned.
It comes Raquel Rolnik, the UN's special investigator on housing, drew a backlash from Conservative MPs after heavily criticising David Cameron’s so-called bedroom tax last year.
Her report on UK housing, published in February 2014, said people renting homes had “very few rights and little security” and called for better protections for tenants.
A few months later UN special rapporteur Rashida Manjoo made headlines by claiming the UK has a "boys' club sexist culture" and a “more visible presence of sexist portrayals of women and girls” than elsewhere.
It comes after Italian police in riot gear reportedly dispersed around 200 migrants who were staging a sit-in at a border crossing with France after French police refused to let them enter the country.
The police are believed to have pushed the migrants back towards the town of Ventimiglia, 5km from the border, triggering some claims the authorities had acted too aggressively.
By Ben Riley-Smith, Political Correspondent
Transnational Migration and Asia
As our increasingly globalized world alters the dynamics of migration, the ideas that migrants have about returning to their home countries have evolved as well. This diverse collection examines the changes and complexities of migration patterns in a range of Asian countries and cities, exploring how globalization and transnationalism shape and give meaning to the migrant experience. From Japanese-Brazilian transmigrants and Filipina students in Ireland to skilled migrants from India, the authors address migrants’ backgrounds, ambitions, and opportunities to offer intriguing insights and propose fascinating new questions about the lives of migrants in today’s world.
The new issue of Migration Policy Practice focuses broadly on three main themes – public perceptions of migration, analysis of irregular migration and return trends, and measuring the impact of migration policies.
The first article, by IOM’s Deputy Director General Laura Thompson, focuses on how to address negative perceptions of migration. Laura Thomson’s article discusses the findings of recent research conducted by Gallup on behalf of IOM, which suggests that public attitudes to migration are more varied than is commonly realized. IOM’s Deputy Director General also outlines an action plan and a series of concrete measures that could be a taken to address anti-migrant sentiment and promote a more evidence-based discussion about migration.
Migration Policy Practice is a bimonthly journal published jointly by IOM and Eurasylum Ltd. It only contributes articles from, and is overseen by, senior officials in government, EU institutions and international organizations, as well as civil society worldwide, working in the field of migration policy.
2015 / 36 pages
Available for PDF download
Source: International Organization for Migration (IOM)
IOM Publications e-alert (April 2015)
May 8, 2015