Hostile asylum policies make tragedy inevitable

Former surety for Kent Refugee Help, Rod Edmund, wrote this letter to the Guardian after the government’s reaction to the deaths in the Channel.

Boris Johnson describes himself as appalled at Wednesday’s Channel tragedy (Tragedy at sea claims dozens of lives in deadliest day of Channel crisis, 25 November), and is elsewhere reported as accusing France of letting human traffickers “get away with murder”, but it’s the asylum policy of his and previous governments that has created the conditions in which trafficking can flourish and tragedies such as this can occur.

There are no options other than “irregular” ones by which asylum seekers can now enter this country. The Home Office requires physical arrival in the United Kingdom before an asylum application can be lodged. Its current nationality and borders bill, by criminalising all means of entry other than official ones that are impossible to access, is clearly intended to bring an end to finding asylum in this country. It won’t, however, bring an end to the displaced making their desperate attempts to reach our shores.

The government’s outrage at Channel trafficking is entirely cynical. Its vaunted policy of pushback hardly suggests that the safety and welfare of asylum seekers are of any concern to the Home Office. On the contrary, pushback – reverse-trafficking in other words – will result in the Channel becoming even more like the Mediterranean.

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