The United Kingdom’s Prime Minister David Cameron faced accusations of being heartless as he maintains his tough policy towards the refugees from the war-torn Middle East while community groups prepare to show that councils in the UK are willing to take thousands more.
Cameron on his visit to Northamptonshire, a county in the East Midlands of England, said “we have taken a number of genuine asylum seekers from Syrian refugee camps and we keep that under review, but we think the most important thing is to try to bring peace and stability to that part of the world,” the Guardian reports.
He also added “I don’t think there is an answer that can be achieved simply by taking more and more refugees.”
Prime Minister Cameron and Home Secretary Theresa May will face pressure by opening parliament next week from some seniors. Backbenchers from their Tory party said that they expected Cameron to shift his ground after distressing pictures of a refugee child that drowned and washed up on a beach in Turkey on Wednesday.
On the other hand, the Catholic church and Labour leadership called on Cameron to do more.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the head of the Catholic church in England and Wales, said that “this is a disgrace. That we are letting people die and seeing dead bodies on the beaches, when together, Europe is such a wealthy place. We should be able to fashion a short-term response, not just a long-term response.”
Cardinal Nichols also added “It is no longer an abstract problem of people on the scrounge. It’s not. It’s people who are desperate for the sake of their families, their elderly, their youngsters, their children. And the more we see that the more the opportunity for a political response that is a bit more generous, is growing. What is screaming out is the human tragedy of this problem, to which we can be more generous.”
Yvette Cooper, the Shadow Home Secretary and Labour Leadership candidate, accused Cameron of ignorance of the worst refugee crisis since World War II.
“When mothers are desperately trying to stop their babies from drowning when their boat has capsized, when people are being left to suffocate in the backs of lorries by evil gangs of traffickers and when children’s bodies are being washed to shore, Britain needs to act,” she said.
“It is heartbreaking what is happening on our continent. We cannot keep turning our backs on this. We can – and must – do more. If every area in the UK took just 10 families, we could offer sanctuary to 10,000 refugees. Let’s not look back with shame at our inaction.”
UN special representative Peter Sutherland stressed that some countries are "massively bearing the burden" of the refugee crisis and the UK is in the "can do more" category.
"I think that this country can do more. The only way to solve this problem is by a united European response and that means sharing responsibility for appalling suffering," he said.
Sutherland also stressed that this is an humanitarian crisis saying "this is a humanitarian crisis that Europe has not experienced in our time of a dimension which demands a common response.”
"At the moment it is true to say that a number of countries are massively bearing the burden of this,” he added.
It is not clear: is the UK renegotiation position that mobility in the EU is only to be given to those with job ?End of free movement?
— Peter Sutherland (@PDSutherlandUN) August 31, 2015
Since 2011, when the civil war began, more than 4 million people fled Syria and according to the United Nations (UN) Refugee Agency 1.8 million of refugees stay in Turkey. One million in Lebanon and more than 600,000 refugees are in Jordan.
According to the Home Office since 2011, 5,000 Syrian families have settled in the UK.
Those numbers also include Syrian families who were already living in the UK and were unable to return home because of war.
The Home Office said that the UK pledged around $1,375 billion (£900 million) over bilateral donations for humanitarian aid.