Let them in: Britain has a moral duty to help Syria’s refugees

It doesn’t take an excess of charitable feeling to recognise this is an exceptional case

Share
Related Topics

It is a measure of how toxic the immigration debate has become in Britain that the Government seems determined to turn down a UN request for us to take in a share of 10,000 refugees who have fled the civil war in Syria.

No doubt spooked by the prospect of adverse headlines about another foreign “influx” at a time when debate rages over how many Romanians and Bulgarians may arrive in 2014, Britain is not joining the US, France and Germany in accepting a proportion of those Syrians who are displaced.

It is understandable that ministers feel embarrassed by the Government’s failure to live up to its pledge to get immigration down to tens of thousands a year. There is also no doubt that the popularity of calls to curb immigration weighs on their minds, especially as an election approaches. But the Government should think again, and not just because it is Christmas.

It doesn’t take an excess of charitable feeling to recognise that Syria is an exceptional case. A devastating civil war over the past three years has torn apart this large and populous country, leaving millions of people with no option but to run for their lives. An unusually harsh winter is exacerbating their plight. Starvation looms on a catastrophic scale.

Read more:

'No room at the inn': Britain condemned for turning its back on Syria's refugees

Syria in crisis: Country's healthcare system is 'going backwards in time, at a rate of a decade a month'

'I hope for a better world': Pope Francis calls for peace for Syria and dignity for refugees fleeing misery and conflict in Christmas Day speech  

Instead of running scared over the prospect of a few thousand unanticipated newcomers, the Government should freely admit that letting in some Syrian refugees will skew its targets on immigration, while appealing to most Britons’ instinctive generosity to understand why our doors should be open to them. 

As only 0.1 per cent of Syrians fleeing the conflict have come to Britain so far, we are hardly being asked to assume an unfair share of the burden. It is worth recalling that even if the UN wanted us to take in all 10,000 – which is not the case – this would still be only a fraction of the 2.4 million Syrians who are already refugees in Lebanon, Jordan and elsewhere.

The shadow Home Secretary, Yvette Cooper, says we have a duty to be more open-hearted. She is right. We should adopt a more generous and welcoming attitude to these people.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Technical Author / Multimedia Writer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This recognized leader in providing software s...

Recruitment Genius: Clinical Lead / RGN

£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: IT Sales Consultant

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...

Recruitment Genius: Works Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

An unelectable extremist who hijacked their party has already served as prime minister – her name was Margaret Thatcher

Jacques Peretti
 

I don't blame parents who move to get their child into a good school

Chris Blackhurst
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent