Home Secretary’s plans branded ‘short-sighted’ and will only ‘inflame an already dangerous situation’

It’s wrong to militarise what is a humanitarian problem say local campaigners.

That’s the view of Hastings Supports Refugees and Hastings Community of Sanctuary when responding to this weekend’s revelations that plans were being drawn up by government to send Royal Navy warships to block migrants from crossing the Channel.

It has been widely reported that Home Secretary Priti Patel has made a formal request to the Ministry of Defence for help to deal with the ‘migrant crisis’ even although an official at the ministry has reportedly branded the proposed crackdown as ‘completely potty’.

Ms Patel has also appointed a former Royal Marine to take charge of operations, paving the way for interceptions and the turning back of the small boats to begin.

The move came after many more migrants, including one in a wheelchair, were brought ashore from a Border Force boat on another busy day for Channel crossings. More than 130 migrants succeeded in making the perilous journey to the UK on Friday – part of a surge Ms Patel condemned as ‘appalling’.

From the BBC – reporters filmed a group preparing to set off from Calais on the dangerous journey across the English Channel.

More than 4,000 migrants have now reached the UK this year by crossing the English Channel in small boats, more than 650 so far this month alone. Setting off from Calais in overcrowded craft, unsuitable for the arduous journey, they come ashore along the Kent and Sussex coastline with many of those seeking refuge being seen landing off Hastings, Rye and Winchelsea.

A spokesperson for the The Refugee Buddy Project: Hastings, Rother and Wealden told Hastings In Focus: “We are deeply concerned about the rhetoric being used by the Government about the people seeking refuge coming across the Channel in small boats.

“To suggest that the best way to stop people making this journey is by engaging the Royal Navy to patrol the crossing is incredibly short-sighted and serves only to inflame an already dangerous situation. It is also in direct contradiction to the statement made in June by Ms Patel when she promised a more compassionate and people-first policy at the Home Office. 

“The Government needs to be creating and maintaining sufficient safe and legal routes into the UK so that people do not have to risk their lives to seek safety. The Channel is the World’s busiest shipping lane and people only make the journey across it out of desperation. People traffickers play on the combination of this desperation, and the hostility of our Government and its refusal to create sufficient safe and legal routes. A compassionate and people-first policy would not only assist people to safely claim asylum and seek sanctuary in our country, but also combat the problem of people traffickers.

Coming ashore along the Kent and Sussex coast.

“This hostility is now being compounded by the so-called ‘fair borders bill’ due to be introduced by Ms Patel this year, which aims to make it even more difficult for people seeking asylum to make their claim and have it heard fairly; the ongoing threat to the Judicial review process; and the claim from MP Chris Philp in The Guardian that the Government intends to ‘return as many migrants… as possible’ while making no reference to due process and the rights – enshrined in international law – of asylum seekers to have their cases fairy heard. This is a doubling down on the hostile environment, not a move away from it as Ms Patel has promised.

“The majority of people of Hastings, Rother and Wealden are in favour of welcoming those seeking refuge, and regularly express their concern to us about the plight of those making the dangerous journey across The Channel. We will continue to speak up for those seeking refuge and those supporting them here in our town.” 

The story was in the news again this morning on the Good Morning Britain report.

Hastings Supports Refugees and Hastings City of Sanctuary added: “The statements by the Home Secretary regarding the increase in boat landings on the south coast of the UK, for us marks an extremely worrying change of emphasis. Just a few weeks ago she was pledging a ‘people first’ approach to immigration.

“The suggestion of involving the Royal Navy to intercept boats full of vulnerable people, many of whom have fled war, aggression and persecution by the military is inappropriate. 

“It is not illegal to claim asylum and to call them ‘illegal immigrants’ feeds into this myth. To be able to claim asylum is our legal right under international law. However, you must be physically present within a country to be able to claim this right. There is no legal way for those seeking asylum to get to the UK from mainland Europe. This then drives desperate people to desperate and dangerous methods to get here.

“People smuggling is rife on the Northern French coast, often using violent means to part vulnerable people with funds to pay to cross the busiest shipping lane in the world in a small rubber dinghy. To quote Care 4 Calais the NGO working with refugees on the ground in France, ‘…they don’t want to sneak into our country – all they want is a fair hearing for their claims’. 

“We feel a better use of the UK’s resources would be to work with French authorities to develop a safe and secure way for people to be able to claim asylum rather than militarising what is a humanitarian problem.” 

Tell us what you think in the comment section below.

6 thoughts on “Home Secretary’s plans branded ‘short-sighted’ and will only ‘inflame an already dangerous situation’

  1. Perhaps somebody from Hastings Supports Refugees could explain to me why all these people choose to seek asylum here and not anywhere in Europe where they first landed. And indeed France where they are all currently coming from.

    And could they please tell me how we are expected to afford these 4,000 plus people in a cash strapped country? And one that is in a serious economic and employment crisis

    1. Well, we could look at corporate tax avoidance? If 4000 people p.a. are desperate enough to cross the busiest shipping lane in the uk in a rubber dinghy i think that tells you how desperate they are. There but for the grace of God go i …

    2. As a country, we’re not cash-strapped. UK is 6th richest in the world! However, the wealth is not shared. There is a wealthy elite, as anyone with half an eye on news reports is aware and the wealth gap is widening.
      France already accepts far more refugees than the UK.
      The millions of ££ the UK gives to France to toughen up border security could at least partly be spent on processing asylum claims in France. Many refugees are ENTITLED to asylum here yet have to make the dangerous crossing to claim it.
      I am proud to be one of a large number of local people who welcome refugees and won’t kick people when they’re down, through no fault of their own.

  2. I hope all the people who feel it is right to support illegal immigration will give lodgings and full support to these economic migrants. Give up their place in the queue for NHS treatments and pay a good whack more income tax

    1. Clive…I so agree with you..also where are the now 6.000 since lockdown mainly young men all going to work and live…Sorry but already burglary has come to Winchelsea Beach… a few escaped migrants living rough..some have broken into empty caravans .I no longer feel safe in my quiet location…Legal Immigration..YES….Illegal migrants…NO…

  3. The right to asylum is being undermined by two factors; one, the lack of evidence that the applicant has been subject to persecution in their country of origin, the converse of which is that the applicant is then deemed to be an economic migrant and is effecively queue-jumping those who are legally applying for asylum and languishing without hope in refugee camps in the Horn of Africa and the Middle East. The second factor is to determine why the UK is preferable to France and other transit countries which are all subject to the European Convention on Human Rights and the Geneva Convention on Refugees. We need an honest dialogue on the rights of local communities as well as rights under humanitarian law. Certainly megaphone jingoistic diplomacy over ‘ruling the waves’ is not constructive

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