It should not have taken images of a drowned three year old boy lying face down in the sand on a Turkish beach for politicians and commentators to finally declare that “something must be done” about Europe’s migration crisis
Shame on us. It should not have taken pictures of Aylan Kurdi‘s lifeless body splashed across the front pages of the world’s newspapers to force the British government into a strategic rethink about how we tackle Europe’s great migration crisis and work with other countries to offer a just and humane response to this ongoing tragedy.
But nobody can say that it has not made a difference. Only yesterday, David Cameron was insisting that nothing “can be achieved simply by taking more and more refugees”, proposing instead to solve the crisis by simply ushering in world peace. Today, the Prime Minister announced that Britain will take thousands more Syrian refugees, insisting “we will do more, we are doing more”. What a fine, principled leader we have, daring to do the moral thing only after being emboldened by shifting public sentiment.
But this dithering in the face of human suffering and clear moral imperative is not new – it has been going on for months and years. Only last month, an Afghan military interpreter who served in Helmand with the Parachute Regiment was executed by the Taliban after being denied refuge by the UK government, despite pleas from senior military figures for the government to remember our moral obligation to our friends in danger overseas.
Prior to his death, the Telegraph reported:
Britain will have “blood on its hands” if Afghan interpreters are killed by the Taliban, the former head of the army has warned. Lord Dannatt said that the nation has a “debt of honour” and a “moral obligation” towards those who served alongside British forces.
It comes amid mounting controversy over the government’s refusal to allow Afghan interpreters to return to Britain, including one who worked as a translator for David Cameron.
Behold the sheer perversity of Britain’s approach to immigration and asylum – two separate issues, but conflated together and both woefully mishandled by successive governments of both parties.