Sunday, August 13, 2023

There are no safe routes

Dave is sitting at his desk writing to our MP about the latest tragedy in the Channel and this repulsive government’s hand in it. I refer to the drowning of yet more desperate asylum seekers who take to unsafe boats because there are no safe routes to get here to claim asylum.

I have written many times to our MP about this government’s cruel, hateful treatment of people travelling in small boats across the Channel to seek safety here. I have argued using statistics, using the fact of the UK’s responsibility under the United Nations charter on refugees, about the lack of safe routes, about the fact that the vast majority of people arriving on small boats would be entitled to refugee status and be able to live and work here if their cases were dealt with, rather than left to moulder in a pile of unprocessed claims. 

The last time I wrote was about the policy to people-traffic asylum seekers to Rwanda. She replied that she was looking forward to working with Suella Braverman. 

What can a person say to that?

Today Dave is writing for both of us:

Six more people have died as a result of their boat capsizing in the Channel as they were attempting to reach safety here.

The government’s line continues to be that the aim is to stop the small boats by breaking the ‘business model’ of ‘criminal gangs’. It is as if the government were to break the business model of hostage-takers by making the hostages’ lives more wretched and killing random numbers of them.

The logic of the government’s position appears to be that by making boarding a small boat futile, the number of paying passengers will be reduced. And yet the numbers of small boats remain undiminished and people continue to die.

The so-called ‘criminal gangs’ are beyond the government’s jurisdiction, and in order to exert imagined leverage on them, the government aims its measures entirely at the innocent victims who are dying in numbers as a result.

Once arrived, the reception these refugees and asylum seekers face is less than welcoming: vile accommodation, the threat of deportation to an unwanted destination, interminably slow processing, and public demonisation by the government. None of these has any impact whatsoever on the supposed villains of the piece, the ‘criminal gangs’. Every measure is designed to make life more wretched for the victims rather than the traffickers.

It seems likely that were legal routes here available, there would be less enthusiasm for risking life in the Channel, and yet the government has closed legal routes except for Ukrainians and Afghanis.

The refugees and asylum seekers are merely expendable pawns in the government’s game. Is this anything other than exploitation by the UK government? Further, how is removing people to Rwanda, a destination they have not chosen, any different from trafficking?

The government’s whole approach appears to lack humanity, ignore human rights, and to be based on unspeakable calculated cruelty. It is an approach of spectacular moral vacuity, and deeply cynical.

These policies are a stain on any civilised society, and not worthy of a decent community. We were slow to respond to the Jewish community who fled Nazism in 1938, and history has taught us nothing. These refugees and asylum seekers deserve the best we can offer, not the departmental sadism offered by your government.

I urge you to write to your MP, even if you have done it before to no avail.


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