Britain's right-wing PM: world must get tough with refugees

Britain's right-wing PM: world must get tough with refugees
Theresa May called for greater scrutiny in the "uncontrolled migration" issue, during her first UN appearance at the refugee summit in New York.
2 min read
20 Sep, 2016
Theresa May made the comments during her first UN appearance in New York [Getty]

British Prime Minister Theresa May attracted criticism on Monday when she accused some migrants fleeing conflict and poverty of seeking economic opportunities in Europe, as the international UN summit on refugees continues.

Addressing the world leaders during her first UN appearance as leader of Britain, May called for greater scrutiny and said countries have the right to defend their borders against "uncontrolled migration".

"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, urging for a "more effective policy approach" toward 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.

Meanwhile, human rights activists gathered outside London's parliament building on Monday, demanding more action from the British government.

At least, 2,500 life jackets, including 625 which had been used by refugee children, were laid in the capital's iconic parliament square to highlight the plight of those fleeing war and conflict. 

Sanj Srikanthan, a director at the IRC told The New Arab that the UK government needed to do more to take in its ‘fair share’ of refugees.

"We are calling on the UK government to up its commitment and take in more refugees. At the moment, they have agreed to take in 20,000 over five years, which is just four thousand a year – six refugees per parliamentary constituency," said Srikanthan.

"We want them to increase this to 25,000 per year, which sounds like a lot, but it is really only seven refugees per constituency, per year – that's not a lot at all.

“We're talking helping the neediest people in the world – the elderly, the children, the orphans and the sick. We need a commitment to take in more refugees – to take in our fair share.”

The UN summit, titled Addressing Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants started on Monday, but was criticised by human rights groups before it even began.

According to the UN, 6940 refugees died crossing the Mediterranean between January 2015 and August 2016 – an average of 11 people a day over the last twelve months.