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Christian Aid: don't leave refugees to poorer countries

by Hannah Tooley

World leaders are meeting to plan a fresh, coordinated response to the migration crisis at the United Nations Summit for Refugees and Migrants.

The summit began on Monday and the international Christian charity has said the burden of helping refugees fleeing war and persecution has fallen too much on poorer nations.

86 per cent of refugees currently awaiting asylum are living in less wealthy countries, according to the charity.

Amy Merone, from Christian Aid, told Premier: "There needs to be more global responsibility sharing, what we're seeing is barbed wire being erected across parts of Europe, and we think that it's actually right that countries share responsibility, so the burden - so to speak, doesn't just lie with poor countries."

Christian Aid wants UK government to:
- Resettle higher numbers of refugees
- Accelerate the resettlement of the 20,000 Syrians the UK government accepted
- Introduce a system of humanitarian visas to the UK
- Strengthen and implement adequate measures for family reunification
- Act on its responsibilities to relocate refugees already in the EU

Amy added: "There's been a lot of procrastination, and those talks haven't included the voices of refugees, so we think this is a real step in the right direction, but we know there is a lot of work to be done going forward.

"What was really noticeable for me in Greece was actually the impact of not having any hope or certainty.

"We want the same things in our lives, we want security and safety for our families, education for our children, to be able to protect our loved ones."

Yannis Kolesidis/ANA-MPA via AP)

The UN Summit is expected to begin a two-year process for a new "Global Compact" for people on the move, to be finalised by September 2018.

US President Barak Obama has called a special conference to ensure quicker action is taken to meet the needs of millions of people now.

Christian Aid has joined this call and is pushing for urgent action to increase the places for refugee resettlement, as well as drastic reforms to the way refugee aid is currently financed.

Not all Christian refugees uses organised refugee camps and Nick Spencer from the Christian Think Tank Theos told Premier's News Hour asylum seekers should be making themselves known.

He said: "Economic migrants by contrast will wish to stay in the country for their own personal reasons, effectively because they're choosing to do so, and wouldn't at any point claim asylum, so there is in theory quite an easy way to distinguish between the two."

Nick Spencer went on to say that in practice it will be hard to tell the difference though: "Quite a lot of these asylum seekers are coming from countries where the civic authorities, the political authorities are quite often the people you want to avoid."

Daniel Kawczynski Christian and MP for Shrewsbury, told Premier's News Hour that Theresa May's wish to distinguish better between economic migrants and refugees is vital.

He said: "Of course we have a duty and responsibility to help those who are genuinely fleeing persecution and war, but we also have a responsibility to ensure the immigration system in this country is properly managed."

Listen to Premier's Hannah Tooley speak to Nick Spencer here:

Listen to Premier's Dan Golding speak to Daniel Kawczynski here:

Listen to Premier's Alex Williams speak to Amy Merone, from Christian Aid, here:

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