Theresa May will use her speech at the UN General Assembly today to call for more measures to help countries to protect their borders on the same day the UNHCR says 2016 will likely be the deadliest year for migrants and refugees crossing the Mediterranean.
Theresa May is opposed to resettling more Syrian refugees in Britain, The Guardian reports. Pre-summit comments concerning refugees made by Ms May have drawn heavy criticism from charities, religious leaders and the Labour party.
On her flight to New York yesterday the Prime Minister told the Guardian that it is her view Syrian refugees are best helped by aid being given to the region rather than by settling them in the UK.
Challenged to justify the slow progress being made to relocate unaccompanied refugee children to the UK from camps in Europe, as part of the so called Dubs amendment, she replied: “We are working with local authorities and NGOs in relation to delivering on the Dubs amendment and we have, for example, speeded up our processes for ensuring family reunification can take place”.
On the day the UN refugee agency has warned that 2016 is likely to become the deadliest year on record for refugees and migrants crossing the Mediterranean to reach Italy and Greece, Theresa May’s main focus at her speech will be on helping countries to protect their borders against the dangers of mass migration.
The UNHCR said more than 300,000 people have arrived by sea to Italy and Greece compared to 520,000 this time last year. Reported deaths and missing persons so far this year stand at 3,210, only 15 percent lower than for the whole of 2015.
“At this rate, 2016 will be the deadliest year on record in the Mediterranean Sea,” the agency said in a statement.
Theresa May’s stern stance has drawn criticism from David Miliband, head of the International Rescue Committee in New York, Maurice Wren of the Refugee Council and Yvette Cooper, chair of Labour’s refugee taskforce.
May’s speech seems set to ignore last week’s open letter signed by 200 faith leaders (including Harun Khan of the Muslim Council of Britain) asking the Prime Minister to urgently review her refugee policy.