British government 'driving refugees to use deadly smuggling routes' with migration policies, MPs find - The Libyan Report

British government 'driving refugees to use deadly smuggling routes' with migration policies, MPs find

The government is risking the lives of migrants by driving them into the hands of smugglers through punitive policies, MPs have found.

The Foreign Affairs Committee said the deaths of 39 people in a lorry discovered in Essex must act as a wake-up call, forcing ministers to reconsider their approach.

A report warned that the UK’s focus on closing borders “serves to drive migrants to take more dangerous routes and pushes them into the hands of criminal groups”.

We’ll tell you what’s true. You can form your own view. From 15p €0.18 $0.18 USD 0.27 a day, more exclusives, analysis and extras.

The UN Refugee Agency estimates that at least 18,900 men, women and children have died while trying to cross the Mediterranean since January 2014.

Many more migrants have died on land routes and in refugee camps in the same period, as well as in the hands of Libyan smugglers and detention centres where torture and disease are rife.

Shape Created with Sketch. The depth of the refugee crisis across the world Show all 20 left Created with Sketch. right Created with Sketch. Shape Created with Sketch. The depth of the refugee crisis across the world 1/20 Mexico A mother washes her baby as she waits for her fast-track humanitarian visa at the Mexico-Guatemala border in Ciudad Hidalgo. Unicef/Bindra 2/20 Uganda Refugee children and youngsters from host communities play at a park in Palabek Refugee settlement, during the mid-morning break. This facility is supported by Unicef with EU financial assistance – it also provides psychosocial support to refugee children as well as a place to play, learn, interact, sing and dance after all the traumatic experiences they may have gone through. Unicef/Nabatanzi 3/20 Jordan Ali, two, rests on his father’s chest. His family are Syrian refugees and came to Jordan six years ago. Ali has just received his winter clothing kit from Unicef and its partner Mateen. Unicef/Herwig 4/20 Bangladesh Children enjoy a ride on a homemade ferris wheel during Eid al-Ftr in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. They are celebrating the holiday in Balukhali, a Rohingya refugee camp sheltering over 800,000 people. The camp is one of the largest in the world, and is bracing for the onset of the monsoon rains. Unicef/Modola 5/20 Colombia Yulis Rivas, three, draws a picture of her parents in a “Friendly Space” in Cucuta, where Unicef provides learning activities for migrant children and parents from Venezuela. Unicef/Arcos 6/20 Greece A young girl holds her doll in front of her tent at the refugee camp in Moria, on the Greek island of Lesbos. This is an overspill area of the camp, known as “the jungle” or “the olive grove”. In 2018, approximately 12,000 refugee and migrant children arrived in Greece by sea. Unicef/Haviv VII Ph 7/20 Uganda Pupils play at Bidibidi refugee settlement in the Yumbe district of Uganda. Their school is supported by Unicef. Unicef/Bongyereirwe 8/20 Colombia Hundreds of pupils cross the Venezuela-Colombia border at 5am to meet a bus that will take them to school in the Colombian city of Cucuta. Unicef/Arcos 9/20 Jordan Ayman, 11 days old, receives his vaccinations in one of the Unicef-supported health clinics in Azraq refugee camp in Jordan. Unicef/Herwig 10/20 Ethiopia Sabirin Nur, 18, is a Somali student volleyball captain at Unicef-supported Melkadida primary school, helping to run sessions for other pupils. Sabirin says: “As a female, many of us face challenges with our parents, like forced marriage or relatives trying to get us married. They want us to go home and be wives.” Unicef/Ayene 11/20 Uganda Pupils sing and play at Bidibidi refugee settlement in Uganda, where migrants have fled from South Sudan. The centre is funded by UK aid and Plan International provides positive parenting services, early learning and recovery for children from war-related stress disorders. Unicef/Bongyereirwe 12/20 Syria Khalid, 10, receives a measles vaccination in Tabqa city in Raqqa governorate. Khalid was uprooted due to escalating violence near his home, and returned a year ago. Unicef/Souleiman 13/20 Lebanon Syrian refugee children in an informal settlement near Terbol in the Bekaa Valley. Unicef/Modola 14/20 Daily life at the refugee camp in Moria. Unicef/Haviv VII Ph 15/20 Colombia A baby has checkup in a Colombian medical centre that receives support from Unicef. Every day, about 40 migrant children are vaccinated in this centre. Unicef/Arcos 16/20 Rumichaca, border of Ecuador with Colombia Katty Baez helps her one-year-old Alfredo insert the straw into a juice box that was given to them by a stranger. Katty is traveling to Peru with her two children to meet her husband, who has been there for eight months, and does not know that the family is on the way. Katty wants to surprise him, because he has been working hard on a fishing boat and the children miss him. In this area, Unicef Ecuador is supporting the government to ensure access to safe drinking water, sanitation, education and health services. Unicef/Arcos 17/20 Ethiopia Pal Biel Jany, 15, wants to be the future president of South Sudan. He goes to school in Makod primary and secondary school in Tierkidi refugee camp in the Gambella region. Unicef/Mersha 18/20 Lebanon Syrian refugee children play in Housh al Refka informal settlement in Bekaa Valley. Unicef/Choufany 19/20 Rumichaca, border of Ecuador with Colombia Thiago Patania, 18 months old, takes a nap in the Unicef tent next to the Ecuadorian customs office in Rumichaca, while his mother waits in line to complete the immigration procedures for her passport to be stamped. Unicef has set up temporary child-friendly spaces and rest tents, as well as supplying thermal blankets, baby kits, and hygiene kits. Unicef/Arcos 20/20 Cameroon Twelve-year-old Waibai Buka (centre) skips rope as a friend records a video of her with a computer tablet provided by Unicef at a school in Baigai. Waibai had to flee her village after an attack by Boko Haram. She has not seen her father since the attack and fears he might be dead. Unicef initiated a pilot project in January 2017 called “Connect My School”. Six solar-powered units help provide internet to schools in different parts of Cameroon. Two of the units were installed in schools in Cameroon’s Far North region – one in Minawao refugee camp, the other in Baigai, near the Nigerian border, where some 50 per cent of children have been displaced by Boko Haram-related violence. Unicef/Prinsloo 1/20 Mexico A mother washes her baby as she waits for her fast-track humanitarian visa at the Mexico-Guatemala border in Ciudad Hidalgo. Unicef/Bindra 2/20 Uganda Refugee children and youngsters from host communities play at a park in Palabek Refugee settlement, during the mid-morning break. This facility is supported by Unicef with EU financial assistance – it also provides psychosocial support to refugee children as well as a place to play, learn, interact, sing and dance after all the traumatic experiences they may have gone through. Unicef/Nabatanzi 3/20 Jordan Ali, two, rests on his father’s chest. His family are Syrian refugees and came to Jordan six years ago. Ali has just received his winter clothing kit from Unicef and its partner Mateen. Unicef/Herwig 4/20 Bangladesh Children enjoy a ride on a homemade ferris wheel during Eid al-Ftr in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. They are celebrating the holiday in Balukhali, a Rohingya refugee camp sheltering over 800,000 people. The camp is one of the largest in the world, and is bracing for the onset of the monsoon rains. Unicef/Modola 5/20 Colombia Yulis Rivas, three, draws a picture of her parents in a “Friendly Space” in Cucuta, where Unicef provides learning activities for migrant children and parents from Venezuela. Unicef/Arcos 6/20 Greece A young girl holds her doll in front of her tent at the refugee camp in Moria, on the Greek island of Lesbos. This is an overspill area of the camp, known as “the jungle” or “the olive grove”. In 2018, approximately 12,000 refugee and migrant children arrived in Greece by sea. Unicef/Haviv VII Ph 7/20 Uganda Pupils play at Bidibidi refugee settlement in the Yumbe district of Uganda. Their school is supported by Unicef. Unicef/Bongyereirwe 8/20 Colombia Hundreds of pupils cross the Venezuela-Colombia border at 5am to meet a bus that will take them to school in the Colombian city of Cucuta. Unicef/Arcos 9/20 Jordan Ayman, 11 days old, receives his vaccinations in one of the Unicef-supported health clinics in Azraq refugee camp in Jordan. Unicef/Herwig 10/20 Ethiopia Sabirin Nur, 18, is a Somali student volleyball captain at Unicef-supported Melkadida primary school, helping to run sessions for other pupils. Sabirin says: “As a female, many of us face challenges with our parents, like forced marriage or relatives trying to get us married. They want us to go home and be wives.” Unicef/Ayene 11/20 Uganda Pupils sing and play at Bidibidi refugee settlement in Uganda, where migrants have fled from South Sudan. The centre is funded by UK aid and Plan International provides positive parenting services, early learning and recovery for children from war-related stress disorders. Unicef/Bongyereirwe 12/20 Syria Khalid, 10, receives a measles vaccination in Tabqa city in Raqqa governorate. Khalid was uprooted due to escalating violence near his home, and returned a year ago. Unicef/Souleiman 13/20 Lebanon Syrian refugee children in an informal settlement near Terbol in the Bekaa Valley. Unicef/Modola 14/20 Daily life at the refugee camp in Moria. Unicef/Haviv VII Ph 15/20 Colombia A baby has checkup in a Colombian medical centre that receives support from Unicef. Every day, about 40 migrant children are vaccinated in this centre. Unicef/Arcos 16/20 Rumichaca, border of Ecuador with Colombia Katty Baez helps her one-year-old Alfredo insert the straw into a juice box that was given to them by a stranger. Katty is traveling to Peru with her two children to meet her husband, who has been there for eight months, and does not know that the family is on the way. Katty wants to surprise him, because he has been working hard on a fishing boat and the children miss him. In this area, Unicef Ecuador is supporting the government to ensure access to safe drinking water, sanitation, education and health services. Unicef/Arcos 17/20 Ethiopia Pal Biel Jany, 15, wants to be the future president of South Sudan. He goes to school in Makod primary and secondary school in Tierkidi refugee camp in the Gambella region. Unicef/Mersha 18/20 Lebanon Syrian refugee children play in Housh al Refka informal settlement in Bekaa Valley. Unicef/Choufany 19/20 Rumichaca, border of Ecuador with Colombia Thiago Patania, 18 months old, takes a nap in the Unicef tent next to the Ecuadorian customs office in Rumichaca, while his mother waits in line to complete the immigration procedures for her passport to be stamped. Unicef has set up temporary child-friendly spaces and rest tents, as well as supplying thermal blankets, baby kits, and hygiene kits. Unicef/Arcos 20/20 Cameroon Twelve-year-old Waibai Buka (centre) skips rope as a friend records a video of her with a computer tablet provided by Unicef at a school in Baigai. Waibai had to flee her village after an attack by Boko Haram. She has not seen her father since the attack and fears he might be dead. Unicef initiated a pilot project in January 2017 called “Connect My School”. Six solar-powered units help provide internet to schools in different parts of Cameroon. Two of the units were installed in schools in Cameroon’s Far North region – one in Minawao refugee camp, the other in Baigai, near the Nigerian border, where some 50 per cent of children have been displaced by Boko Haram-related violence. Unicef/Prinsloo

MPs criticised the decision to strike deals with Libya and other countries, including Sudan and Niger, in an attempt to stem routes towards Britain.

They said such agreements risk fuelling human rights abuses and can be used as leverage by partner governments, after Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to “open the gates” to allow Syrian refugees into Europe last month.

Tom Tugendhat, the Conservative MP who chairs the Foreign Affairs Committee, said the shocking tragedy in Essex was not a one-off.

“Today, hundreds of families across the world are losing loved ones who felt driven to take the fatal gamble to entrust their lives to smugglers,” he added.

“The UK has been relatively isolated from the different migrant crises in recent years – but it’s wrong to assume that we are protected from their impact. Right now, the US withdrawal from Syria and the Turkish military operation into territory formerly held by Kurdish fighters could see an increase in migration flows.”

Independent news email Only the best news in your inbox Enter your email address Continue Continue Please enter an email address Email address is invalid Fill out this field Email address is invalid Email already exists. Log in to update your newsletter preferences Register with your social account or click here to log in I would like to receive morning headlines Monday - Friday plus breaking news alerts by email Update newsletter preferences

Mr Tugendhat urged the government to “lead by example” with its policy on migration and asylum, and remain in EU forums on the issue after Brexit.

“It’s crucial that we plan our response to irregular migration together,” he said.

The committee called for a renewed effort to ensure future cooperation with European nations on the issue, and an immediate return of UK officials to EU-level meetings where irregular migration is discussed.

Echoing years of calls by campaigners that have gone unanswered, MPs urged the British government to expand legal pathways to apply for asylum outside Europe, to prevent migrants from resorting to smugglers.

MPs condemned ministers for allowing “dire conditions” suffered by migrants in northern France to continue, while instead ploughing money into increasing security along the French coast.

The report cited research carried out by the government itself that said crackdowns at French ports had caused an increase in small boat crossings over the English Channel, which the UK is now trying to stop.

“Focusing on increasing border security without improving conditions in the region may have the counterproductive effect of forcing migrants to make desperate journeys across the Channel,” the committee concluded, and urged the government to improve conditions in refugee camps and process asylum claims faster for those with relatives living in Britain.

MPs said the UK should work with Italy and other EU member states to reintroduce search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean, after the death rate among migrants attempting the crossing rose in the wake of the end of Operation Sophia boat patrols and a legal assault on charity rescue ships.

The report said one person now dies for every six who reach Europe after departing from Libya, adding: “Under no circumstances should migrants be left to die as a deterrent to stop others arriving. [Foreign minister Heather Wheeler’s] evidence did little to convince us that the FCO is seriously engaged with this problem.”

MPs also called for “robust monitoring and safeguards to ensure that UK funding to migration programmes in Libya is not contributing to human rights abuses”, which are allegedly being carried out by the country’s official coastguard as well as non-state actors in the country’s ongoing civil war.

“EU deals with Libya have achieved the short-term political ‘win’ of cutting migrant numbers, but at the cost of fuelling human rights abuses, strengthening armed groups, and undermining stability in the longer term,” the report said.

“The UK should address the wider, interlinked factors driving irregular migration – including climate change, conflict, repressive governance and corruption – rather than focusing narrowly on reducing the numbers reaching Europe’s borders in the short term.”

The report noted that although the UK had received a smaller proportion of asylum seekers who entered Europe during the refugee crisis of 2014-15 than many other nations, it had felt impacts including a “changed political climate”. source