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My response to David Mackintosh's response to my open letter about the refugee crisis

David Mackintosh responded to my open letter about the current refugee crisis.

Below is my response to him - his response is quoted below mine.

David has since sent a final response, not to address by further points, but simply to say that we clearly don't agree.


Hi David

I am not very satisfied with your response to my letter for a few reasons highlighted below:

I believe that the present situation in the Mediterranean is intolerable. Gangs are profiting from the misery of their fellow humans, selling them false promises before loading them on to dangerous vessels and sending them, in many cases, to their deaths.

I agree that the way in which migrants and refugees have to make the journey to Europe are dangerous. To be honest I don't think the profit the "gangs" are making is the biggest issue, except where it causes harm to people. Given that it is definitely causing harm to people, your focus should be on providing safer methods for refugees and migrants to make it to Europe. This is where EU directive 2001/51/EC that I mentioned is relevant: If the government really cared about this perilous journey, they should be making sure that refugees and migrants who feel the need to leave the area are able to fly or use other safer methods of transport, rather than forcing them to take deadly illegal boats.

We must distinguish between those genuinely fleeing persecution and economic migrants crossing the Mediterranean in the hope of a better life. ... we must not provide new incentives for those simply seeking to come for economic reasons. As I have said, not all those trying to cross the Mediterranean are refugees

You seem very worried about accidentally helping people who aren't technically refugees. Do you have any sources for estimating the comparative numbers - how many of the 3,000 people currently living in tents in Calais, for example, are not technically refugees? It seems to me that if well over half are in fact refugees, as I believe them to be, then it is simply inhumane to put off helping them for the fear of accidentally helping others.

I also don't accept as self-evident, as you seem to, your statement that "we must not provide new incentives for those simply seeking to come for economic reasons". There is no solid evidence that migrants put an undue economic strain on the country. Migrants from the middle-east would never be able to make use of UK benefits without being officially registered anyway. If someone is willing to risk their life to take the perilous journey across the Mediterranean, they clearly have a pretty keen need for a better life, regardless of whether they are technically a refugee.

I urge you again, as my representative in parliament, please do what you can to encourage the government to massively increase the UK response to the crisis, in particular by allowing an order of magnitude more refugees and migrants from the middle-east to enter the UK.

Sincerely,
Robin

On Tue, 8 Sep 2015 at 15:56 David Mackintosh MP info@davidmackintosh.org.uk wrote:

Dear Mr Winslow,

Thank you for contacting about me about the humanitarian crisis happening in the Mediterranean. These photos that we are seeing on the news are clearly shocking.

I believe that the present situation in the Mediterranean is intolerable. Gangs are profiting from the misery of their fellow humans, selling them false promises before loading them on to dangerous vessels and sending them, in many cases, to their deaths.

This problem is not new but it is growing. It demands a clear response from European nations, and if we are to stop it, we must adopt the right approach. We cannot do anything which encourages more people to make these perilous journeys - or which makes it easier for the gangs responsible for their misery. That is why the UK will not participate in a mandatory system of resettlement or relocation. The UK has now sent the Royal Navy's flagship, HMS Bulwark, along with three Merlin helicopters and two border patrol ships.

I do think that in providing support to address the immediate situation, we have to make sure we are not doing anything to make the problem worse. We must distinguish between those genuinely fleeing persecution and economic migrants crossing the Mediterranean in the hope of a better life. While the UK has a proud tradition of providing refuge for those who need it, we must not provide new incentives for those simply seeking to come for economic reasons.

The EU should work to establish safe landing sites in North Africa, underpinned by an active programme of returns. We should use military, intelligence and crime-fighting assets to deliver search and rescue mechanisms, and also to crack down on the traffickers who are putting people at risk.

As well as this, we are working to stop the problem at source, such as pledging £900 million in aid to support refugees from the Syrian crisis. In addition to this financial support, we have granted protection to almost 5,000 Syrians since the crisis began and continue to tackle the organised trafficking gangs seeking to profit from this human misery.

As I have said, not all those trying to cross the Mediterranean are refugees who I believe should be prioritised for help and, for those who are not refugees, we need to slow down their travel through transit countries, encourage them to return to their country of origin, if safe to do so, or help them make their countries safe so they can build a better life in their homes rather than trying to make the dangerous journey to Europe.

I was in the House of Commons chamber yesterday for the Prime Minister's statement in which the Government announced that the United Kingdom will help 20,000 Syrian refugees fleeing so-called Islamic State. I will continue to monitor the situation closely.

Best wishes,

David

David Mackintosh MP Conservative Member of Parliament for Northampton South

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