Catholic Herald he was “disappointed” by the government’s refusal to support search and rescue operations, saying that “All the evidence shows that such operations are needed now more than ever as people flee violence and persecution in many troubled parts of our world.”
Maurice Wren, chief executive of the British Refugee Council, said Britain’s government “seems oblivious to the fact that the world is in the grip of the greatest refugee crisis since the Second World War,” adding that, “People fleeing atrocities will not stop coming if we stop throwing them life-rings; boarding a rickety boat in Libya will remain a seemingly rational decision if you’re running for your life and your country is in flames. The only outcome of withdrawing help will be to witness more people needlessly and shamefully dying on Europe’s doorstep.”
Perhaps the most damning response came from Sarah Teather MP, the Catholic and Liberal Democrat chair of Westminster’s All-Party Parliamentary Group on Refugees, who described the government’s decision as “deeply depressing,” and said that “when it comes to immigration, the Government has plumbed new depths of inhumanity.”
Castigating how Britain’s willingness to bomb the Islamic State group and arm combatants in the Middle East has not been matched by offers of protection for those fleeing the conflict, Teather described a recent visit to Lebanon, where nearly a quarter of the population are refugees, and said that “we cannot pretend this problem has nothing to do with us and wash our hands as people die. It is the policies we are pursuing, attempting to turn Europe into a fortress with no safe routes in, that is forcing migrants into risking their lives. We are forcing people to choose between dying in their own war torn country and drowning in the sea.”
“How depressing,” she concluded, “that the UK’s response, rather than to extend a hand of welcome, is to turn our back on the biggest refugee crisis for over half a century. We should all be ashamed.”
Greg Daly covers the U.K. and Ireland for Aleteia.