Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

David Cameron description of migrant 'swarm' condemned as 'irresponsible' and 'extremely inflamatory' by human rights group

Comes after hundreds of desperate migrants attempt to access Channel tunnel on Wednesday night

Rose Troup Buchanan
Friday 31 July 2015 13:48 BST

A human rights group has condemned David Cameron's description of "swarms" of migrants, calling his language "irresponsible, dehumanising" and "extremely inflammatory" as desperate migrants continue to attempt the dangerous journey across the Channel to the UK.

The Prime Minister, speaking from Vietnam as part of his tour of South East Asian nations, said migrants illegally entering the UK would not be offered a "safe haven" and reassured British holiday-makers that authorities would ensure they had a “safe and secure holiday”.

But his comments were condemned by the Refugee Council, who criticised the PM's "irresponsible, dehumanising" language as "extremely inflammatory".

Mr Cameron’s remarks follow the attempts of hundreds of migrants, many fleeing horrendous persecution in some of the world’s worst humanitarian disasters, to cross the Channel on Wednesday night.

"This is very testing, I accept that, because you have got a swarm of people coming across the Mediterranean, seeking a better life, wanting to come to Britain because Britain has got jobs, it's got a growing economy, it's an incredible place to live,” Mr Cameron told ITV.

"But we need to protect our borders by working hand in glove with our neighbours the French and that is exactly what we are doing."

His remarks were condemned by Ukip leader Nigel Farage, who insisted that he would never use the word "swarm" in an interview with BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Thursday morning - despite having described migrants in exactly the same way earlier this year.

On ITV's Good Morning Britain, Mr Farage described being surrounded by "swarms of potential migrants," according to a transcript obtained by Politics Home.

The BBC claims that more than 3,500 people have tried to access the Channel tunnel this week, with several hundred escorted from the area by French police last night alone.

“We will remove more illegal migrants from our country so people know it's not a safe haven once you're there," Mr Cameron told the BBC.

But Lisa Doyle, head of advocacy for Refugee Council, criticised his remarks and told The Independent: "It’s extremely disappointing to hear the Prime Minister using such irresponsible, de-humanising language to describe the desperate men, women and children fleeing for their lives across the Mediterranean Sea.

“This sort of rhetoric is extremely inflammatory and comes at a time when the Government should be focused on working with its European counterparts to respond calmly and compassionately to this dreadful humanitarian crisis.

Migrants from as far afield as Afghanistan, Sudan and Syria, gamble their lives most evenings in a desperate attempt to make the 21-mile crossing to the UK.

Leigh Daynes, executive director of Doctors of the World UK (Médecins du Monde), told The Independent, that people were living in "horrendous conditions" leading to "all sorts of terrible health problems."

Mr Daynes, whose organisation is the only medical charity working on the ground in Calais, claims the charity is "treating a growing number of people who have been injured, many of them seriously, after falling from trucks".

The PM insisted that the UK’s border was secure, despite the numerous attempts by migrants. French authorities had dispatched 120 police officers and that UK forces would be reinforcing the fences and upping security measures.

Additional reporting by Press Association

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in