POLITICS

Calais Migrant Crisis Needs Help From United Nations, Says Yvette Cooper

10/08/2015 22:00 BST
PAUL ELLIS via Getty Images
Yvette Cooper takes part in a Labour Party leadership hustings event in Warrington, north west England on July 25, 2015, hosted by journalist Paul Waugh. With Britain's political class starting its summer recess this week, commentators say Labour must consider whether it wants to be simply a principled opposition or a party with a real shot at power at the next general election in 2020. AFP PHOTO / PAUL ELLIS (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)

Yvette Cooper has called for the United Nations to intervene in the migrant crisis in Calais and for the UK to accept more refugees fleeing Syria.

The Labour leadership candidate and shadow home secretary said on Monday evening that the UNHCR, the UN's refugee agency, should be brought in to register the people attempting to make their way through the Channel Tunnel and into the UK.

Cooper said David Cameron was guilty of an "impractical and frankly shameful response" to the situation on the French-British border.

"We have the spectacle of a clueless foreign secretary using dehumanising language about people, including many who have fled the conflict in Syria, rather than putting forward a proper humanitarian plan befitting a proud and outward-looking country like Britain," she said.

"I'm calling on the prime minister to agree with President Hollande for the UNHCR to be brought in to register those people camping out at Calais and go through a proper process of managing asylum applicants.

Philip Hammond had been criticised for describing people trying to make the journey from Africa to Europe as "marauding".

Cooper said: "As part of a Europe wide deal that would end the encampments, prevent the security risks, process legitimate claimants, and prevent illegal travelling, the prime minister should also offer to accept more UN certified refugees who have fled the conflict in Syria. The evidence overwhelmingly shows the largest group of refugees that arrived in Europe have fled the humanitarian catastrophe in Syria.

"We can't simply allow continued attempts at illegal migration, abandoning people to a dangerous life of trying to board lorries and access train tracks. Nor do we want to see more disruption in Kent and problems for hauliers and holidaymakers. We need a diplomatic breakthrough with the French to solve this.

"In the longer-term we need a far-reaching strategy to deal with the pressures in Southern Europe. There should be an EU Summit of Leaders as soon as possible to agree a more ambitious plan to tackle the traffickers and smugglers, and help those countries managing the arrival of many thousands of refugees."

Amnesty International has condemned Hammond for making "mean-spirited" and "shameful" comments about migrants.

Speaking during a visit to Singapore, Hammond said the gap in living standards between the two continents meant there would always be an "economic motivation" for Africans to try to make it to the EU.

"As long as the Europe Union's laws are the way they are, many of them will only have to set foot in Europe to be pretty confident that they will never be returned to their country of origin," he told BBC News.

"Now, that is not a sustainable situation because Europe can't protect itself and preserve its standard of living and social structure, if it has to absorb millions of migrants from Africa."

Hammond said ensuring migrants could be returned to their country of origin was also the key to resolving the "crisis" at Calais, where hundreds are gathered in the hope of being able to make it across the Channel to Britain.

"So long as there are large numbers of pretty desperate migrants marauding around the area there will always be a threat to the tunnel's security," he said.

Calais

SEE ALSO: Hammond Branded 'Shameful' For Claiming Migrants Would Hit British Living Standards