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Friday, September 11, 2015

Why short-sighted Cameron is making the refugee crisis worse

I am sure that the Prime Minister would agree that the best way long term solution to the refugee crisis is to provide stability to countries such as Syria, which has seen 4 million people flee from war and persecution.

The same David Cameron however is cited as wanting to launch a bombing campaign in Syria, whilst the invitation by his Government to regimes criticised for “appalling” human rights records to attend the world’s largest arms and security fair in London hardly gives us the sense of ministers assuming the moral high ground.

As the Independent says providing stability and prosperity in troubled states would mean that people are less likely to undertake dangerous journeys to escape to a better life:

In reality, however, this would mean the West bringing peace to Syria, the main source of the most immediate wave of the dispossessed, and Iraq, from where increasing numbers are following their Syrian neighbours to the West. Peace would also have to be established in Libya, which has become the key conduit for trafficking across the Mediterranean. Furthermore living conditions would have to be dramatically raised in a swathe of other countries, from Bangladesh to Palestine and across sub-Saharan Africa, which is also where many refugees are coming from.

Critics point out that Britain has played a key role creating the violent and unstable conditions in these places with its part in the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the bombing of Libya, for which Mr Cameron was the chief cheerleader. The Prime Minister was also the first one to cry “Assad must go”, just as he had cried “Gaddafi must go” when the Syrian uprising was at its infancy and could, perhaps, have been settled before its descent into savagery.

But where does one go from here? One way to bring stability would be through aid. The government justified diverting some of the aid money to defence (thus making the defence budget look larger than it really is) by maintaining that pre-emptive humanitarian action would prevent strife and the rise of extremism and thus bolster the UK’s defence. But George Osborne has announced that part of the international aid budget will now go towards looking after the additional refugees Britain has been forced to take in. This will, in effect, mean cuts in overseas projects, some in highly vulnerable communities which may slide into instability and violence, creating further refugees.

The message is clear: Britain is still not doing enough to fulfil its international and moral obligations, our government continues to fuel the wars and conflicts that have led us here in the first place and, welcome as the decision to take 20,000 refugees is, using the international aid budget to pay for this means that we are less able to help create the stabiliy needed to prevent these crises in the first place.
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