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Migrant crisis: Newham MPs call for Britain to do more

PUBLISHED: 17:06 03 September 2015 | UPDATED: 17:34 04 September 2015

A paramilitary police officer carries the lifeless body of Aylan Kurdi, 3, after a number of migrants died and a smaller number were reported missing after boats carrying them to the Greek island of Kos capsized. Picture: AP Photo/DHA/PA Images

A paramilitary police officer carries the lifeless body of Aylan Kurdi, 3, after a number of migrants died and a smaller number were reported missing after boats carrying them to the Greek island of Kos capsized. Picture: AP Photo/DHA/PA Images

MPs Stephen Timms and Lyn Brown have both called for Britain to accept more refugees on a day when photographs of a drowned boy in Turkey have shocked the world.

More than 150,000 migrants have reached Hungary this year, most coming through the southern border with Serbia. Picture: AP Photo/Petr David Josek/PA ImagesMore than 150,000 migrants have reached Hungary this year, most coming through the southern border with Serbia. Picture: AP Photo/Petr David Josek/PA Images

The ongoing migrant crisis in Europe, which has seen 322,914 people arrive on the continent since January, has led to disputes over Britain’s role.

The UK offered asylum to 14,065 refugees last year, and now the MPs for East and West Ham have challenged the prime minister to be bolder, claiming Britain is “failing to respond”.

Lyn Brown, MP for West Ham, said: “My postbag proves I am not the only one to be moved to tears by these stories and images.

“We have seen the suffocated families on an Austrian road, heard stories of torture by extorting traffickers and, today, came the image of Aylan Kurdi, just three years old, washed up on the shores of a Turkish beach,” she said.

“People only take such risks if they are truly desperate.

Stephen Timms, MP for East Ham, added: “Pictures from the developing refugee crisis in Europe have shocked all of us.

“Many of these people have arrived from war-torn countries and look towards countries such as Britain for hope.

“David Cameron has said that Britain should seek peace in the Middle East but does not need to accept any more people who are claiming asylum.

I see little effective action from the government in promoting peace, but, in any case, these two are not alternatives. Britain should be willing to accept more asylum seekers whilst also actively promoting peace in the Middle East.”

Lyn said she supports calls for every council in the country to take a small number of asylum seekers.

“This is the worst humanitarian crisis on our continent since the Second World War, yet Britain is failing to respond, We are led by a government that is hidebound by its immigration rhetoric,” she said.

“The prime minister needs to open his eyes to this humanitarian crisis, understand that British people are compassionate people who will want to play their part. He needs to act and he needs to do it now.”

Meanwhile a migrants’ charity in the borough has also criticised the response to the ongoing crisis in Europe.

Rita Chadha, chief executive of the Refugee and Migrant Crisis of East London (Ramfel), has said it is time to do more – and claims she has received emails from people willing to offer their own homes to those in need.

“There has been an increase in refugees from warzones – I would say around 30 per cent of Newham’s population are people indirectly affected by warzones, mostly in the Middle East,” she said.

“The crisis is down to international politics, and the UK has had a role,” she said. “These are the consequences of intervention abroad. We have not invested in other countries – and when you don’t invest, this is what happens.

“The UK used to be heralded for its values – now we have Europeans saying they can’t turn their backs on these people while we do. It means British values are non-existent. It’s hypocritical – we aren’t practising what we preach.

“If we don’t do something, it will end in chaos.”


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