Refugees: Mediterranean Sea

Home Office written question – answered on 3rd July 2015.

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Photo of Lord Hylton Lord Hylton Crossbench

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their response to the report published on 18 June by Human Rights Watch, The Mediterranean Migration Crisis: Why People Flee, What the EU Should Do.

Photo of Lord Hylton Lord Hylton Crossbench

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they expect the European Council on 25–26 June to discuss the identification of refugees, resettlement for family reunion in Europe, the care of unaccompanied child migrants, and the possible use of humanitarian visas to help people in need of protection to travel lawfully to the European Union.

Photo of Lord Bates Lord Bates The Minister of State, Home Department

The Prime Minister has written directly to Ken Roth of Human Rights Watch following the publication of the report and we are currently considering its findings. The Government remains firmly of the view that the only sustainable solution to the crisis in the Mediterranean is to address the reasons why people risk their lives, to combat the organised criminals who entice them to do so, and not simply by tackling the problem once it reaches the EU.

The issue of migration in the Mediterranean was high on the agenda of the European Council. The European Commission proposals on relocation and resettlement were discussed at the Council as well as return, readmission, reintegration and cooperation with countries of origin and transit. Many of the initiatives discussed are welcome but other elements such as the relocation of asylum seekers within the EU risk exacerbating the situation and we therefore do not support them. With regard to resettlement proposals, the Government remains committed to resettling vulnerable refugees under existing national schemes and has no plans to be part of a separate EU quota scheme.

On the matter humanitarian visas for the purpose of seeking international protection within Europe, there is little evidence that providing opportunities for a small number of migrants to travel legally from source countries will have a significant impact on the very large numbers of migrants who want to come to the EU.

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