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Many in the UK have been outraged (and often simultaneously amused) this past week by the arrival on our shores of a batch of Calais asylum seekers billed as unaccompanied ‘children’, yet who are in appearance seemingly well over the age of 20. As bizarre and brazen (and obvious) as the fraud appears to be, I think this outrage somehow misses the point. The bigger scandal – and the one worth focussing one’s anger on – is that asylum seekers are being allowed into Britain at all.
What obligation does Britain have – legally or morally – to those refugees (if they are indeed refugees) stationed in the safe, democratic nation of France? None is the answer, and no-one can (or has even attempted to) reasonably argue otherwise.
As opponents of asylum fraud are right to consistently point out, a central principle (even if not a law) holds that refugees should settle in the first available safe haven they come across that is willing and able to accommodate them. To illustrate this idea with reference to Syria, a refugee from ISIS-controlled territory who has been accepted into Turkey has no right to demand entry into Greece. A refugee from ISIS-controlled territory who has been accepted into Lebanon has no right to demand entry into Cyprus, and so on. If the purpose of emigration is, as stated, to avoid violence, war or persecution, then only in the first accommodating nation can asylum be rightfully claimed. Should the refugee flee from one safe haven to another, that is called migration and no country is duty bound to facilitate it.
This isn’t a very difficult principle to understand – and, to be sure, most ordinary folk do understand it, which is partly why the Calais Jungle infants have been so poorly and unsympathetically received.
Now, I am an Islamophobe – no doubt about that. I despise the Islamic religion with a white-hot passion. I’m also not over-keen on the adherents of the Islamic religion. Nevertheless, I am, like the reader will be, a moral person, or at the very least someone with a moral sense. We do have an obligation as human beings to ensure that the innocent do not suffer any preventable evil.
To help the Syrian people, Donald Trump has endorsed a workable and perfectly logical initiative. Allied forces, he says, should carve out a safe-zone in Syria into which the innocent can flee while the conflict burns itself out. This would not be difficult to achieve. Though Assad and ISIS would inevitably object to the idea, both forces have been so degraded that neither is capable of mounting an effective resistance.
Turkey, rich in manpower and arms, must be told to do the work on the ground or face expulsion from NATO. The Gulf States, especially Saudi Arabia, must be made to cough up the money to support the campaign or face a year-long suspension of Western arms sales. This is the solution. Let’s pursue it.
As for the Calais ‘children’, Britain and the West are under no rightful obligation to take in anyone. No asylum seeker, not one, whether from Eritrea, Syria, Afghanistan or the Congo, should be allowed to settle here. And we have every right to expect our government to prevent them from doing so.