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Jean Lambert London's Green MEP

Jean Lambert rejects Foreign Office position on Mediterranean search and rescue

28/10/2014

Responding to the Foreign Office’s refusal to take part in future search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean, Jean Lambert, Green MEP for London said today in an extended statement:

‘Once again, Teresa May is basing her migration policy decisions on assumptions, not evidence. Many of those risking their lives to cross the Mediterranean come from Syria and Eritrea – countries that the UK recognises as having many people in need of protection. Desperate people are taking riskier routes, attempting treacherous sea routes because land borders are increasingly restrictive. Trying to deter people from travelling just doesn’t work when people’s lives are at risk in their country-of-origin.

‘We know that not everyone travelling in leaky, dangerously overcrowded boats claims asylum, but whether they do or don’t we should not turn our backs on people who see the EU as capable of offering hope and safety.

‘Many of us have been working for years to try to develop a greater practical demonstration of solidarity among national governments in the EU to deal with effective rescue-at-sea and follow-up on land. We have argued for ways in which people seeking asylum can get access to the territory of the EU to lodge their claims, without risking their lives and for countries to offer more resettlement possibilities for recognised refugees. The fact is, conveniently ignored by this Government, that the UK has resettled less than 100 Syrian refugees. Countries such as Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey are sheltering millions of displaced people and the UK Government is providing financial aid.’

Jean concluded:

‘It is a crying shame that the apparent compassion of that British support ends at the seashore outside the EU and that the UK makes no life-raft available.’