The UK has a problem with immigration. Even those who support migration have to concede that there are practical difficulties, such as a squeeze on school class sizes and GP waiting lists in areas where many new people have settled. This has boosted parties such as UKIP where a withdrawal from the EU - and therefore an end to free migration throughout Europe - is one of their major policies.
In the last 15 years, the Mediterranean Sea has transformed into a graveyard for more than 20,000 migrants and refugees searching for protection and a better life in Europe. At least 3,500 people drowned close to European shores in 2014, many of them from Syria, Eritrea or sub-Saharan Africa. Already this year, 500 people have lost their lives at sea, and that's before the summer period when the majority of people attempt the dangerous crossing.
Between now and April 7th, is an opportunity to further understanding of the events and the circumstances of this extreme violation of human rights. And on April 7th we can join with Planet Syria and innumerable groups and organizations in worldwide peaceful demonstrations of every kind to show international solidarity.
In just over six weeks, we'll wake up to a new Parliament. Immigration will doubtless be a prominent and divisive issue in the run-up to the election. What does this mean for the refugees that will come to Britain fleeing war and persecution over the next five years? The welcome we give to refugees to Britain during the next Parliament depends not on the outcome of the election, but on what happens once it is over. Whoever wins we need to impress on them, and on the public, that a fair and just asylum system is the right thing for Britain and the right thing for the asylum seekers that need our support and protection.
If the government wants to prove it's serious about justice and protecting vulnerable people, then it will recognise that the detention estate is a product of the dark ages. Instead of tinkering with processes, Ministers should focus their efforts on consigning the whole system to the history books where it belongs.
Britain can and must provide asylum seekers and refugees with the protection and support they deserve. Its political parties must outline their proposals for an efficient and fair immigration and asylum policy, which reflects our national self-interest and the rights of those feeling war and persecution.
In 2014, the fourth year of the conflict in Syria, a bleak humanitarian situation deteriorated even further. To date, there have been over 200,000 fatalities and one million casualties. Three million people have sought refuge across borders and more than seven million people have been displaced. More than half of the country's population - including five million children - require some form of humanitarian aid. Not only has violence increased, but access to aid has also been restricted. Needs are greater than ever but the aid system is not meeting them. Today, Syria remains the most serious humanitarian crisis in the world.
Mhere is no reason at all for which people should risk their last hopes and often die at sea. The time has come for the EU institutions and Member States to step up their collective action to strengthen rescue operations, provide swift access to asylum procedures to those in need of international protection and increase legal alternatives to prevent people from having to undertake these dangerous sea crossings.
Migration is a fact of life. Humans have moved around the world for hundreds of thousands of years. It's hard to blame someone for wanting to improve his or her circumstances. My parents made the same decision when they realised I had polio. After he came to London my father never saw his parents again. My mum and dad made huge sacrifices for which I will always be grateful.
The rarity of these new, liberal democratic nations is illustrated by the speculation in the media and elsewhere that a newly independent Scotland would have a lot to learn from three-year-old South Sudan. The inference is clear: Establishing a fully functional government and the apparatus of the state is a phenomenally difficult task.
These bones from arid countries that have walked, run, climbed, crawled, sailed, clung on and hidden for two years on the journey from Africa and the Middle East to reach their promised land, the United Kingdom... when winter comes, having made it this far, if it is an unkind one, some will almost certainly die.
While politicians agree to bomb ISIS and arm other groups in the Middle East, no protection is offered to those fleeing the conflict. Instead Ministers appear on TV shows claiming that UK towns are "under siege" from migrants. Not only do these words stir up tensions, but they are also an insult to those who know what it's truly like to be under siege as their lives are ripped apart by civil wars across the Middle East... Instead of working with international partners and organisations to set up mechanisms that not only share the burden between countries but that also offer people safe, legal opportunities to travel, the UK will refuse to help rescue those who are drowning. We should all be ashamed.