May calls for tougher stance on mi­grants

The Sun (Malaysia) - - NEWS WITHOUT BORDERS -

NEW YORK: Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May called on Mon­day for greater scru­tiny of mi­grants and de­fended each coun­try’s right to de­fend its bor­ders as she made her first UN ap­pear­ance.

Ad­dress­ing a UN sum­mit on refugees, May high­lighted Bri­tain’s com­mit­ment to in­ter­na­tional aid but called for a “more ef­fec­tive pol­icy ap­proach” to­wards mas­sive mi­gra­tion from war-torn Syria and else­where.

“We must also be clear that this cri­sis has been ex­ac­er­bated by un­prece­dented lev­els of un­con­trolled mi­gra­tion,” May told the sum­mit.

“Be­cause it is not only refugees who are mov­ing in large num­bers, it is also those seek­ing greater eco­nomic op­por­tu­ni­ties,” she said.

May called for all gov­ern­ments to en­force the prin­ci­ple that asy­lum seek­ers will ap­ply in the first safe coun­try where they step foot – gen­er­ally mean­ing, for those flee­ing Syria, neigh­bours such as Turkey, Le­banon and Jor­dan.

“We need to be clear that all coun­tries have the right to con­trol their bor­ders and pro­tect their ci­ti­zens and be equally clear that coun­tries have a duty to man­age their bor­ders to re­duce on­ward flows of il­le­gal and un­con­trolled mi­gra­tion,” she said.

May, a Con­ser­va­tive who took of­fice in July af­ter Bri­tain’s shock vote to leave the Euro­pean Union, said there was “noth­ing wrong with the de­sire to mi­grate for a bet­ter life” but that the cur­rent sys­tem did not ben­e­fit asy­lum seek­ers them­selves.

May’s pre­de­ces­sor David Cameron last year promised that Bri­tain would ac­cept 20,000 Syr­ian refugees by 2020.

Ger­many by com­par­i­son took in one mil­lion asy­lum seek­ers last year alone as Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel voiced hope of avert­ing a hu­man­i­tar­ian dis­as­ter.

Rob Wil­liams, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Bri­tish char­ity War Child, crit­i­cised May, say­ing: “Now is not the time to ask who is least de­serv­ing.”

Half of the peo­ple dis­placed by con­flict are children, he said.

“Rather than get­ting too dis­tracted by com­plex def­i­ni­tions of refugees and mi­grants and fo­cus­ing on who to ex­clude, the prime min­is­ter could make a real dif­fer­ence by spear­head­ing a global ac­tion plan for children forced to flee,” he said in a state­ment. – AFP

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