Sutherland slams Europe's reponse to migrant crisis
Published 08/11/2015 | 02:30
The UN special representative for international migration Peter Sutherland yesterday accused Britain of preparing to adopt a morally unacceptable position if it turns its back on the refugee crisis in Europe.
"This is not a transient issue. It challenges the moral fabric of the societies we live in. To think, to be told, that your country can in some way isolate itself from the crisis is insane. It's completely wrong," said the former Irish attorney-general and chairman of the London School of Economics.
"Are we going to allow refugees to stand in freezing rivers at our borders this winter, to live in freezing tents with their children?"
Speaking after the European Commission estimated that more than three million more people are expected to arrive in the EU by the end of next year and that those numbers are not expected to diminish until 2017, Sutherland said the EC had mechanisms to deal with the crisis, but that the humanitarian response had been woefully inadequate.
"If the national debate is all around the negatives, keeping people out, then of course it's going to be polarised and xenophobic," he said. "This is not me having an Anglophobic rant. Right across Europe the evidence is that migration makes a positive contribution, not a negative one. Migrants contribute far more than they take out and they are necessary to keep a balance between retirees and workers."
Sutherland has been scathing of the language of "racism and xenophobia" used by the British PM David Cameron and other heads of state, criticising them for dismissing the plight of those they called "economic migrants".