EU Refugee Quotas Encouraging Lethal Journeys, Says Cameron

Quotas of migrants on countries across the Continent are \"encouraging\" people to make \"potentially lethal\" journeys, he said.

Published: 05th September 2015 08:13 AM  |   Last Updated: 05th September 2015 08:41 AM   |  A+A-

david cameron-AP

EUROPEAN leaders trying to impose quotas of migrants on countries across the Continent are "encouraging" people to make "potentially lethal" journeys, David Cameron has said.

The Prime Minister rejected calls from Jean-Claude Juncker, head of the European Commission, and other European leaders, for Britain to take its "fair share" of migrants.

He said that the Government's plan to resettle thousands of Syrian refugees is "a better approach" because it was not encouraging people to make dangerous crossings.

It comes after days of criticism from foreign leaders about Mr Cameron's failure to accept enough migrants to the UK.

The Prime Minister said Britain would resettle thousands of Syrian refugees currently in camps.

In an apparent rebuke to the foreign leaders who have criticised Britain - including Angela Merkel, the German chancellor - Mr Cameron said: "Britain is not part of Schengen. We've maintained our border controls. So we don't take part in this quota of migrants who've arrived in Europe and get spread around Europe.

"But we will do our bit by taking refugees directly from the refugee camps, which we think is a better approach because you're not saying to people, 'make a dangerous crossing and we'll give you asylum'.

"We're saying we will play our part in resettling those people who need resettling, but we'll take you from refugee camps rather than encourage people to make this dangerous, potentially lethal crossing."

Mr Cameron, in Madrid, also said Britain will spend a further pounds 100?million on humanitarian aid to address the Syrian refugee crisis.

Conservatives have claimed that the Prime Minister's wife, Samantha, had a "huge influence" on his decision to change his policy.

On Wednesday, Mr Cameron had said Britain would not accept "more and more" migrants despite the crisis.

Mrs Cameron has previously travelled to refugee camps in the Middle East and is an ambassador for Save the Children. The Prime Minister earlier this year told how he consults his wife about certain "difficult decisions".

Senior Downing Street sources said it was "nonsense" to suggest Mrs Cameron had influenced policy on the crisis. But Mr Cameron did not deny the claims. He said that "as a father" he was moved by the photos of refugees.

There has been an outpouring of hospitality and generosity across Britain in response to the crisis.

Paul Johnson, a company director from Farnham, Kent, has pledged his spare room to a Syrian refugee. Mr Johnson, 43, made the offer online after seeing the images of the drowned Syrian boy, Aylan Kurdi.

"It was made easier by what's happened this week. Until a few weeks ago there wasn't really an option to help," he told The Daily Telegraph. "Secondly, the images are pretty harrowing and I'm not entirely comfortable that we're doing all we can as a country to help."

Sarah Fletcher, 45, a housing officer at York council, also offered to use her home to help shelter new arrivals. She said: "It's been in the last few weeks that I've been thinking that we should be doing more."

Sir Bob Geldof has offered his Kent and London homes for the use of refugees.

The dean of York Minster, the Very Reverend Vivienne Faull, has also offered to house a family fleeing conflict.

Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, said Russia was providing "serious" training and logistical support to Bashar Assad's Syrian army, in the first public confirmation of the depth of Russia's involvement in the Syrian civil war.

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