5 September 2015
Syrian Refugees

Over the last few years many thousands have died trying to escape from war, persecution or poverty.  Those unnamed and faceless victims have suffocated, starved, frozen, drowned or have simply been murdered by the very traffickers they paid to help them.

Those thousands of people where given a face when we saw the photos of one drowned little boy on a beach in Turkey.

That image was a wake-up call for many and my postbag and inbox has been filled with correspondence demanding that the Government act. It should be remembered that Aylan was not the first casualty of the terrible instability in the Middle East and our Government has been taking action for some time already. As a nation we have a long tradition of helping refugees and I am proud that we have already given just under a billion pounds in humanitarian support to the Syrian people, second only to the United States and £300 million more than any other EU country.

But I, like everyone else, saw those images and thought "we need to do more".

I welcome David Cameron’s announcement that the UK will provide sanctuary to thousands more Syrians currently in refugee camps. It is right and proper that we prioritise the help to these people rather than those already in safe countries in mainland Europe or those who might otherwise turn to traffickers who have a vested interest in using more dangerous routes.

These actions are necessary but not sufficient.

Our priority must be to stabilise the situation in the region. Allowing ISIS freedom of movement in Syria has proved to be disastrous and we must now lift the self imposed restriction on airstrikes against them in Syria. We must give our full support to the stable regional governments who are at the forefront of the fight against ISIS and push those counties that have turned a blind eye to support for ISIS from within their borders to be tougher in stopping it.

We must also work with the international community to make people trafficking the most unappealing criminal activity on the planet. There should be no safe place for those who trade in this human tragedy.

There is no quick or easy solution to the Syrian question but we should not be afraid to help those who need our help, support those who are doing the right thing and punish those we are not.

There will be more announcements in Parliament over the coming few days on this matter.