Home Secretary Says Britain Will Not Accept Economic Migrants from Africa
Theresa May, the Home Secretary, has said Britain will not join in a Europe-wide initiative to resettle African migrants crossing the Mediterrean to enter Europe. She further indicated that some of these migrants should be forcibly returned to their countries of disembarkation.
Due to the collapse of security in Libya, hundreds of thousands of migrants have been fleeing through the country from all across Africa and beyond. Most of the migrants are non-Libyan. The European Commission is still in the process of considering what action must be taken, as it is clear that millions will attempt the perilous journey in unseaworthy craft across the Mediterranean to Italy, which is currently being overwhelmed by the influx. The solution so far proposed by the EC is to impose quotas on European countries to ensure they take the migrants, however that is clearly not a solution to the problem, and the destruction of the migrant boats has been suggested as a more effective means of stopping the flow of people, and also of saving their lives, as large numbers have been perishing in their attempt to reach Italy. It is expected that as the weather improves even greater numbers will arrive in the Southern countries of Spain, Italy and Greece. It is to counter a disproportionate burden being placed on these three that the European Commission wants to act now. However this has led to great disatisfactiion among other European nations, with both Hungary and the UK saying they will not take any.
As the transport of migrants is a successful economic operation run by smugglers the destruction of their boats appears to be the favoured option. The migrants pay large sums to reach the European mainland. The main groups are from Syria, Afghanistan, Eritrea and Somalia, with sub-Saharan Africans making up the rest. Last year 219,000 crossed the Mediterranean and even more are expected in 2015 (figures from UNHCR – http://www.unhcr.org/print/552e603f9.html).
May said: “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.” (http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/opinion/thunderer/article4438589.ece)
Speaking on the BBC’s Today programme, May said the government had consistently felt that any quota system should be voluntary. “These are very often economic migrants, people who have paid criminal gangs to transport them across Africa, to put them into vessels which those criminal gangs know are not seaworthy, where they know there is a risk of people dying,” she said.
It is of great concern that among the economic migrants there will almost certainly be a number of violent religous fanatics supporting ISIS and other extremist Islamist organisations. As ISIS and their affiliates have made recent pronouncements on attacking European cities the subject is of great importance to the security services, as well as to the general public.