The situation in the Mediterranean

Thank you for contacting me about the situation in the Mediterranean.

I completely understand your response to the picture.  It is too ghastly for words.
 
But it is vitally important, if we actually care about the individuals concerned  that we recognise that it was the fact of the family being forced to seek refuge in a far distant place that led to this disaster – not any reluctance on the part of another country to receive them.
 
The point I am making is that, unless we find a way of solving this problem at its source in the Middle East and North Africa, more people will suffer similar, ghastly things as they struggle to make their way across the world.

In other words, what we need is a mixture of effective, humanitarian aid in the regions that have been affected and a stabilisation of the situation in those regions.
 
I have just returned from Baghdad and Erbil, and have seen this at first hand for myself.  I am very glad to say that, in the case of Iraq, although the government there is still far away from fully stabilising the situation and removing ISIL, the humanitarian effort of the government of Iraq itself, the regional government of Kurdistan, the people of Iraq, the international agencies and countries such as ourselves has broadly succeeded in providing refuge of various kinds for the 3 million internally-displaced people – with the result that those people are not in the hands of traffickers and are not exposed to the appalling dangers involved in making tracks across continents.
 
Clearly, the situation in Syria and in Libya is very different – and that is where the international community now most needs to act.

This is why we continue to be at the forefront of the international response to the humanitarian crisis in Syria - including as the second biggest bilateral donor of humanitarian aid, having already pledged £900 million.

As a result of this huge commitment from Britain, we have played a major role in establishing and maintaining safe havens for millions of Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries. We have also arranged for some of the most vulnerable  of these refugees to be resettled in Britain, without any of the dangers that afflict those trying to make their own way across continents, often in the hands of people-traffickers. 

Now, with an additional commitment of funds, the Prime Minister has announced that we will resettle more of the most vulnerable refugees from the camps we are funding to the UK.

The whole country can be proud of the role we are playing in supporting the Syrian people at a time of great crisis. But the only way for the violence and suffering to end is with a negotiated political transition, and we must spare no effort in working to find a solution to the crisis that will allow all the refugees to return home.