The President of the Union of Welsh Independent churches has accused the UK government of using the refugee incidents in the English Channel to manipulate public opinion in order to drive the Brexit agenda.
“With parliament in disarray and the Brexit process stalled, attempts by small groups of desperate refugees to reach the UK have been blown up out of all proportion in order to feed populist alarm and pander to prejudice,” said the Revd Jill-Hailey Harries in her New Year’s Message.
“There’s a perception that the UK is being threatened by an immigration crisis, yet just over 200 refugees have attempted to cross the Channel in the past two months – many of them children. Compare that with the 3.5 million Syrian refugees in Turkey.
“Home Secretary Sajid Javid’s action in returning early from holiday to deal with a very minor situation has fed the sense of crisis, public alarm and resentment against refugees.
“The small number of refugees attempting to cross the English Channel include Iraqis fleeing chaos in a country destabilised by warfare and Iranian professionals seeking political asylum after escaping from a repressive theocratic regime. There is an obligation under the UN’s 1951 Refugee Convention to treat people fleeing persecution in a humane manner. Failure to do so reflects poorly on the UK.”