Clark Cross (Letters, 22 June) makes the same mistake as those who see all benefit claimers as belonging to one homogeneous group of “scroungers”. He quotes one Somalian’s alleged reasons for wanting to reach Britain as if the latter’s views were representative of all refugees.
Benedict Bate (Letters, same day) also raises a few points for discussion. In response to his first point, I would argue that the Italian authorities have no option but to accept these desperate people in the first instance.
The process of determining their status as refugees takes time.
I agree that the sheer numbers of both refugees and economic migrants puts severe pressure on the countries to which they flee, which is why solutions have to found as a matter of urgency.
With regard to his query about the ability of the refugees to fund their passage to Europe, I would have to say that those fleeing war and persecution are defined not by poverty, but by desperation and fear for their lives.
Some are fortunate enough to have the funds to finance their escape.
Those who are less fortunate have to remain on Libyan shores until they can pay off their smugglers from earlier parts of the journey, or in order to save up for the sea crossing on the next leg of their journey.
They can be seen gathering on street corners in many Libyan towns, hoping for offers of casual labouring jobs. Some are treated as slave labour until they repay their debts.
The main factor hindering attempts to find a solution to this situation is the lack of agreement amongst government leaders about the fair distribution of refugees across Europe.