The death of three-year-old Alan Kurdi, who drowned with his mother and brother after their boat sank in the Mediterranean, initially seemed to have caused a marked change in attitudes. The UK announced it would take in 4,000 refugees a year, Canada pledged to resettle 25,000 Syrians and Germany agreed to take in thousands of people stranded in Hungary.
Among the group was a man who carried a little girl dressed in a pink jumpsuit. Unlike Alan Kurdi, she was alive but she could easily have suffered her fate as demonstrated by the death of 27 people, including three children, in the English Channel at the end of November.
The number of refugees granted asylum in Scotland comes to a halt
Instead of adopting aggressive ‘push-back-at-sea’ policies – with all the risks this entails for fragile dinghies – it would be far better, more humane and, above all, safer, for the UK to create a legal route for asylum seekers. the UK from France via a humanitarian visa in accordance with refugee rights under the Geneva Convention.
The UK, one of the richest countries in the world, hosts far fewer refugees than many other European countries. Attempting to reduce this number even further means that we are shirking our international responsibilities as a nation and our duty as human beings to help others in difficulty.
As more and more people attempt to cross the English Channel, how we react will speak volumes about our national character, our collective moral fiber and who we really are.