The UN’s humanitarian agencies are now on the verge of bankruptcy because of the sheer scale of the refugee crisis in the Middle East, Africa and Europe.
According to Antonio Guterres, the UN high commissioner for refugees, the numbers of those displaced by conflict per day has increased from 11,000 in 2010, to 42,000 last year, while income in 2015 is around 10 per cent less than in 2014.
Budgets for shelter, food, sanitation medical assistance and education have all been so severely cut, says Guterres, that they are failing to meet the basic needs of people.
Apart from the severe cuts to food rations for Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Jordan, and for Somalian and Sudanese refugees in Kenya, UN-run healthcare services have also been closed across a large part of Iraq, despite efforts by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to raise enough funds to keep them going.
Every action has a consequence. The drastic cut in rations to 1.6 million Syrian refugees by the World Food Programme could, it has been suggested by the latter, leave refugees vulnerable to recruitment by extremist groups. Men desperate to feed their families could see this as their best option.
Insufficient food, and untreated medical and surgical conditions, are also driving the huge surge in people now risking their lives at sea to reach Europe.
The UN’s humanitarian work is funded entirely by voluntary donations from individual governments and private donors.
The agencies spend the money as quickly as it comes in, and are currently operating with a funding deficit. Guterres thinks there should be a change to the funding system, requiring assessed contributions by all member states – at least for major emergencies.
As Guterres points out, the humanitarian budget all over the world is somewhere between £20-£30 billion, while a bailout of even a medium-sized bank would cost more than that. We need to get our priorities right.
Accurate data rather than subjective impressions would help. Your correspondent, Clark Cross, believes that “Britain is already the most densely populated country in Europe” (Letters, 8 September).
Unless more of Britain has eroded into the sea or more of the sea been incorporated into the Netherlands, the latter still retains the title in the population density league among the larger states.
As to the belief espoused by Brian Monteith and endorsed by your correspondent, Bob Taylor, that Germany is taking in refugees against future labour shortages, one would like to see the factual evidence.
The cross border employment of French domiciled workers in Germany suggests that other solutions exist. More importantly Germany is not averse to investing in systems to save labour in its still important manufacturing sector.
The unfolding tragedy in the Middle East grows grimmer and grimmer. The continuing influx of refugees to European countries poses a multitude of political, economic, social, legal and religious challenges.
Refugees are human beings and Europe has a moral and legal obligation to offer succour to the wretched victims fleeing war and systematic persecution in war stricken nations.
But let us be realistic and pragmatic, Europe cannot accommodate the huge hordes of refugees crossing into its territories.
Millions of lives are in danger of starvation, persecution and death either at the hands of Bashar al-Assad’s regime or from the thugs of the self-declared caliphate of Iraq and the Levant.
Is it possible for Europe to bring hundreds of thousands of refugees especially in this age of austerity, recession, unemployment, domestic violences, knife crimes, islamophobia, xenophobia, international terrorism and benefits cuts?
Not long ago, Theresa May the British Home Secretary visited France and spoke about placing armed police in Calais to prevent refugees from crossing the channel towards Britain.
Are we so naive to think that the harrowing photo of a three-year-old drowned boy has triggered tidal waves of compassion among the political elites in Europe, while hundreds of thousands of innocent children are being killed every day in Syria and Iraq.
Needless to say, because of the humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in Gaza and the occupied Palestinian territories and the brutal images shown of dead and injured Palestinian children and women at the hands of Israeli troops, now is the time for a proper show of statesmanship.
What’s more, it is time to stamp out the root causes of the current crisis; end more than 60 years of Israel’s occupation and oppression and stop meddling in the Middle East.
Munjed Farid Al Qutob(Dr)
David Cameron’s announcement that Britain will take in 20,000 refugees over five years, will put even more pressure on schools, hospitals, housing and welfare benefits and encourage others to get in illegally.
Britain is the most crowded country in Europe.
What do we tell the people who have been waiting to get social housing or hospital treatment? Sorry refugee families have priority.
It is surprised that our politicians have not suggested a “one in one out” solution.
Hate preacher Anjem Choudary should be deported with his family thus freeing up a house and giving substantial savings on welfare benefits and legal aid.
A suspected British jihadist mother-of-four was arrested in Turkey and returned to the UK.
A one-way ticket out of Britain and her council house in East London would provide refuge for a deserving Syrian family.
Thousands of undesirables are using legal aid lawyers to stay in Britain but they should be thrown out.
There are 13,000 foreign criminals in our prisons and more with tagging restrictions.
Deport them and Britain might then be able to absorb 20,000 refugees. One in one out works for me.