More Channel drownings, incompetence, and bare-faced racism

14 August 2023

THE latest tragedy in the English Channel underlines the need to urgently establish a system of viable, safe routes for refugees from countries like Syria, Iran, and Afghanistan. The tactics adopted by the Home Office are not stopping "the boats". A different approach is needed.

People smuggling was built on the backs of governments blocking safe passage. A safe, humanitarian route will break the people smugglers' business model and prevent human beings from risking their lives crossing the world’s busiest shipping lane.

Sadly, Suella Braverman and Rishi Sunak prefer to ferment panic instead of dealing with the backlog of asylum claims, now over 172,000. The Home Secretary has ruled herself incompetent because of this latest tragedy, which comes on the back of the news that contractors knew that the Bibby Stockholm was infected with Legionella but still, the Home Office boarded 39 unsuspecting asylum seekers. Her crocodile tears are sickening. 

Tens of thousands of Ukrainian war refugees have arrived here because the UK Government provided a safe humanitarian route.  You won't find Ukrainians crossing the Channel in desperation. They have travelled through multiple safe countries and are welcomed; in fact, many go back and forward to Ukraine to visit loved ones while the war goes on. We know this from the Ukrainians we support on our Room for Refugees hosting programme.

Yet when refugees of colour travel through France to get here, they are treated with hostility and vitriol. Sadly, the press rarely calls out this differential treatment: welcoming Ukrainians while beating the government's drum of "stop the boats" and  "illegal immigrants" when it comes to people of colour. It is bare-faced racism.

The refugee crisis is not going away. Human beings move. Deal with it. Better to build viable and credible safe routes that refugees will trust.  Better to process the backlog of asylum claims waiting for a decision. Better to let people work while they wait and collect some taxes and let them pay their way. Better to get rid of incompetent government ministers who are only making things worse with their race-baiting and costing the taxpayer billions in failed "solutions".

Robina Qureshi

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