European resettlement not solution to refugee crisis, new funding models essential - top Conservatives MP tells World Vision fringe event
Desmond Swayne MP, the Minister of State for International Development yesterday (Monday 5 October 2015) told a World Vision fringe event at the Conservatives Party conference, that the UK and most of the international community, need to change their funding plans in order to resolve the Syrian refugee crisis.
Describing the crisis as the “largest response to a humanitarian emergency that we have ever mounted”, the New Forest West MP challenged the “minnows” of Europe who call for a quota system approach to resettling refugees to match the UK’s funding commitment in the Middle East.
He said: “Since the beginning of the decade, 60 million people have fled their homes. We still have refugees from 1967 and indeed 1948. Increasingly we have to find a way of funding that. We work on a basis of a four year funding plan...we have got to make a commitment, year on year, on year; on the same way the United Nations and relief agencies provide for Palestinian refugees.
“In terms of providing a safe haven for refugees in this country, I think we are going about it the right way. I honestly don't believe that with 4 million Syrian refugees displaced in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan; and with 8 million displaced within Syria itself that, resettlement in Europe can be a significant part of the solution. And we have to break the business model of the people traffickers,” Swayne added.
Swayne was part of a specialist panel of four chaired by prominent political journalist and blogger, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, which was discussing challenges affecting INGOs and charities responding to various protracted crises. Also on the panel was Patricia Mouamar, a communications specialist for World Vision Lebanon and Imran Madden, the UK director for the charity, Islamic Relief.
Responding to the role of faith-based charities such as World Vision and the Islamic Relief, Swayne said: “Faith-based charities have a strength based on their faith which perhaps other secular organisations might lack and I don't want to see that strength undermined in any way by pretending that they are not faith based. All I want to know is that the relief that they afford is available to everyone irrespective of their faith or confession.”
On the side of the discussions, World Vision UK chief executive, Tim Pilkington called for a “greater commitment” from political leaders to solve the protracted conflicts across the world.
He said: “Studies show that charities and INGOs are committing up to 80 percent of all funds to responding to the needs of the vulnerable in conflict zones. It’s a very worrying figure and one which clearly shows that aid agencies on their own do not have the answers and solutions to the current crisis.
“We know that more political will is required in order to address the needs of the most vulnerable. We believe that party conferences are a fantastic opportunity to influence decision makers and have your voice heard on important issues, which is why I am in Manchester today together with the World Vision UK team and our supporters to attend the Conservative Party’s conference and contribute to the discussions here,” Pilkington explained.
Meanwhile World Vision in partnership with UNICEF, this week began establishing shelters known as Child Friendly Space for refugees crossing on Bapska border between Serbia and Croatia.
Exhausted refugees seeking safety in Europe, can now access aid such as hygiene kits, soap, nappies, toys and a place for children to rest and play. Since early September, World Vision has been supporting refugees in Serbia especially the most vulnerable mothers and children.