It's now more than two months since the election. For those of us working with refugees, it's been a worrying time. Some of the initial policy decisions made by new Ministers will lead to considerable hardship amongst both newly arrived asylum seekers as well as those that have been in the UK longer. Our task is not made any easier by some of our newspapers. We've already read enough tabloid myths about asylum seekers to last into the next Parliament. Nonetheless, five years is a long time - in politics and, as many refugees will tell you, in life.
I want my government to remember the numerous times the UK has displayed compassion and commitment to human life and dignity by providing refuge for those facing persecution. During the Second World War they helped the Kindertransport children, in the 1980s they took in refugees from Vietnam, and in the 1990s they helped those fleeing from war in Bosnia and Kosovo. Sadly, the lack of support they are currently offering refugees will definitely be a stain on their history.
David Cameron will join the leaders of other EU countries on Thursday and Friday for a special summit to discuss the EU's migration policy, following a dramatic increase in the number of irregular migrants trying to enter the EU this year. In recent months there have also been more cases of migrants drowning while trying to cross the Mediterranean.
We must try to find sustainable long-term strategies which will address the underlying problems and help people to stay where in almost all cases they would rather be, namely their own home country. As the conflict continues in Syria, it should be acknowledged that the UK has committed £800million of support in response to the humanitarian crisis, including food, medical care and relief items to people in desperate need in Syria and in the region. But safe and properly organised routes to humanitarian protection, for those who really need it, should also be part of the response.
Europe has been quick and unified to launch a war on smugglers but has shown no political willingness to offer immediate alternatives to these dangerous journeys... Clearly, no political willingness exists in Europe to carry the legal responsibility to provide protection and assistance for people in distress calling for help in the waters just off European shores.
This week, the United Kingdom was declared the most LGBT-friendly place in Europe and yet there is one group of people in this country who have little to celebrate: LGBT asylum seekers. Five years ago, the Conservative Party promised that it would protect LGBT asylum seekers fleeing persecution. So far they have failed.
We should bear that fact in mind before denying our responsibilities in this crisis. Migration and asylum claims are part of our modern world and we need to be pro-active in international collaboration between countries of origin, transit and destination in order to preserve the right to seek international protection.
Khaled sits down in what appears to be an awkward position, his back against the wall. Half sitting, half lying. It is how he sat in his cell in Damaskus. During a total of 12 months, locked up in a cell too small to lie down in, and not high enough to stand up, Khaled was tortured by the Syrian Security forces...