MPs urge Cameron to engage with EU on migrant crisis

8th September 2015, Comments 0 comments

British opposition MPs on Tuesday urged Prime Minister David Cameron to take in migrants already in Europe and engage with Britain's EU partners in an emergency parliamentary debate on the crisis.

Cameron on Monday unveiled plans to take in 20,000 Syrian refugees over the next five years, saying they would be taken directly from UN refugee camps to discourage their perilous journeys to Europe.

"We need a bigger plan," said Yvette Cooper, a contender for the leadership of the main opposition Labour Party and shadow home secretary.

"This should actually be an opportunity for us to work with other European countries and to get other European countries to do more," she said.

Plans to take in 4,000 refugees a year was "not enough" compared to the numbers of Syrians being taken in by France and Germany, she said.

Joanna Cherry from the Scottish National Party said Britain should play "a proportionate role with its European partners", while Liberal Democrat Alistair Carmichael said distinguishing between refugees in Europe and those in UN camps was "false" and "offensive".

"Surely our contribution to helping people who are in need should be based on the need, not a decision they might have made in sheer desperation," he said.

Britain has taken in only 216 Syrian refugees under a special scheme set up last year, as well as accepting asylum requests from nearly 5,000 Syrians since the conflict there began in 2011.

The government has ruled out participating in any EU quota system for resettlement and has responded to criticism by saying it is the second biggest donor after the United States to the Syria crisis.

Thousands of Britons have volunteered to offer their homes to host refugees and to help in their resettlement, although local councils have warned about the costs of hosting them.

More than four million Syrians have fled the conflict.

© 2015 AFP

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