Entry 11

British plan to accept 20,000 Syrian refugees over five years is criticised

The British government (8.9.15) has announced that it will allow entry to the UK of 20,000 immigrants from holding camps in Syriaover the next five years.

This is its response to criticism from sections of the British public that it is not in line with previous British policy of safe haven for persecuted refugees, eg Jewish Kindertranport children in1938-40; 20,000 Hungarians fleeing Soviet repression in 1956, and 27,000 Asians in 1972 who were expelled from Uganda.

But the 20,000 total over five years finds no favour from British liberal circles. A former leaderof the Liberal Party declares ‘Nothing better shows the PM’s tone deafness to the urgency of the situation than to announce this headline figure, and then add that it will take five years to implement’.

American opinion is also critical. The Wall Street Journal wrote (6.9.15): ‘. . . the need for a common European response isn’t recognized by everyone. David Cameron, the U.K. prime minister, refuses even to acknowledge that there is a European crisis, referring instead to a crisis facing “the countries of Europe”—a subtle but telling distinction.

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