13 Oct 2015
A group of over 300 lawyers have demanded that the UK accept more Syria refugees, arguing the number being offered is “narrow.”
“We consider that the UK Government’s offer to resettle 20,000 of the most vulnerable Syrian refugees from camps in the Middle East, spread over five years, is too low, too slow and too narrow,” the group said in a statement it released on Sunday.
The group ,including a former president of Britain’s supreme court and other prominent lawyers, also called for an end to the current legal system of the European Union whereby asylum seekers claim asylum in the first EU country in which they arrive .
One of the leaders of the group, Stephen Sedley, a former appeal court judge, said that a “stable and prosperous” Britain could do far more.
“As the statement explains, it is within the UK’s power to curtail the lethal boat traffic by enabling refugees from countries such as Syria and Iraq to travel here lawfully in order to apply for asylum,” Sedley added.
Sedley also said that, “since refuge from persecution and war is a universal human right, this means recognizing that our Government’s present offer to take no more than 20,000 Syrian refugees over five years is wholly inadequate.”
In response to the lawyers’ criticism, Richard Harrington, Britain’s newly-appointed parliamentary under-secretary of state for Syrian refugees, said taking more refugees would take “careful and meticulous” planning, adding that, “we are working closely with UNHCR [the UN Refugee Agency] to identify and resettle those in the regions who are the most vulnerable.”
“This also deters people from attempting these perilous journeys which have already led to so many tragic deaths,” he said.
The conservative government of the UK has announced that it will only take refugees from United Nations camps on the border with Syria, rather than taking part in a proposed EU-wide resettlement scheme for refugees who have already arrived in Europe.
Politicians from across party line, churches, council leaders and community groups have been urging Cameron to change his hard-line stance on the unfolding asylum seekers crisis.
Since 2011, over four million Syrians have been forced to flee their war-torn country as a brutal conflict broke out there, with millions more internally displaced.
EU countries such as Germany, France and Italy have repeatedly demanded that asylum-seekers be shared more evenly among member states.