Philip Hammond's demonisation of 'marauding' migrants is shameful, says Amnesty International

The charity's migrants chief said the foreign secretary's comments were 'mean-spirited and shameful'

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A charity has condemned comments made by Philip Hammond in which he said Britain needed to protect itself from "marauding" migrants”.

Speaking during a visit to Singapore on Sunday, Mr Hammond said African migrants arriving in Europe were undermining its “standard of living”.

He said Britain’s “number one priority” was to find a way to send back would-be asylum seekers to where they came from.

He attacked the freedom of movement laws with the European Union, saying that migrants “only have to set foot in Europe to be pretty confident that they will never be returned to their country of origin" warning that, in Calais, "there are large numbers of pretty desperate migrants marauding around the area".

"We have got to be able to resolve this problem ultimately by being able to return those who are not entitled to claim asylum back to their countries of origin. That's our number one priority,” he told BBC News “Europe can't protect itself and preserve its standard of living and social structure, if it has to absorb millions of migrants from Africa.”

However, Steve Symonds, the co-director for refugee and migrant rights at the charity, called the politician’s comments “mean-spirited and shameful” saying the government had a duty to protect people fleeing conflict and oppression.

He said: "Rather than throwing up the drawbridge and talking about how Europe can 'protect' itself from migrants, Mr Hammond should be working with our EU partners to ensure that people don't drown in the Mediterranean or get crushed beneath lorries at Calais.”

It comes as the UK’s approach to the Calais migrant crisis  was criticised for having “elements of racism” and called a “nationalist, populist reaction to migration” by the UN’s special rapporteur on the human rights of migrants.

François Crépeau said the attempts by migrants to get into the UK were similar to westerners taking a holiday in Thailand.

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The 'jungle' in Calais near the entrance of the Eurotunnel where migrants camp out in the hopes of reaching Britain

He said:  “It is remarkable that in most of our countries we have nothing against numerous Germans and French coming in and we dislike profoundly that people with darker skin colours are coming in.”

Read More:
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Additional reporting by PA

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