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This article titled “Cooper to attack Cameron’s ‘still far too weak response’ to Syrian refugee crisis” was written by Nicholas Watt Chief political correspondent, for theguardian.com on Monday 12th October 2015 23.01 UTC
David Cameron will be guilty of allowing Syrian children to “freeze to death” on Britain’s doorstep unless he allows at least 10,000 refugees into the UK over the next year, Yvette Cooper is to say.
In some of her strongest criticism of the government’s handling of the Syrian crisis, the former shadow home secretary will say Britain’s response is “still far too weak”, as she calls on ministers to redouble their efforts to help refugees as winter approaches.
Cooper, who agreed to serve as chair of Labour’s refugee taskforce after she came third in the party’s leadership contest, will tell an event organised by the national community organising charity Citizens UK on Tuesday: “As governments across Europe struggle to cope and the weather gets colder, it is no longer an option for the prime minister to turn his back and pretend this isn’t our problem.
“We have to act. We cannot stand on the sidelines while children freeze to death on our doorstep. This is now the biggest humanitarian crisis to reach Europe since the second world war, and every European nation needs to do its bit to help.”
Cooper will step up the pressure on the government to act after a panel of retired law lords described the government’s plan to take in 20,000 Syrian refugees over the course of this parliament as “too low, too slow and too narrow”. The group, including the former president of the supreme court, Lord Phillips, said Britain should allow “safe and legal routes” to the UK to admit a “fair and proportionate share of refugees”.
Cooper will say that Britain should take 10,000 people over the next year – a figure that can be reached if every county and city took 10 families. This was the target she set in a speech during the closing weeks of the Labour leadership contest. Responding to the discovery of 71 decomposing bodies inside a parked lorry in Austria in August, Cooper accused the government last month of cowardly and immoral behaviour for refusing to admit more refugees.
Cooper will say on Tuesday: “We need immediate action to help not just those in the Syrian camps, but some of those who have made it to Europe too. If every county and city took 10 families we could help 10,000 people over the next year alone.”
Her previous speech, which was delivered a few days before the body of the three-year-old Syrian refugee Alan Kurdi was discovered on a Turkish beach, captured a mood that Britain was failing to rise to the crisis. The government eventually said it would admit 20,000 refugees by 2020.
On Tuesday, Cooper will again make clear she believes the government’s response has been inadequate. She will say: “The refugee crisis is getting worse not better, but the British government’s response is still far too weak. Winter is looming and far more needs to be done to help thousands of vulnerable families who have no home to go to and who fall prey to smuggling gangs.
“Across the country people are joining the call for Britain to do more. Faith groups, community organisations, charities, councils, landlords, lawyers, businesses, universities are all calling for more action. Citizens UK and other organisations have shown the powerful demand for action from people in every corner of our country.
“Yet so far the British government has taken very few Syrian refugees and won’t tell us how many have arrived. They need to tell us immediately how many have come, and how many are due each month. Currently the government is way off track to meet the prime minister’s pledge of helping 4,000 a year, and is still doing far less than other European countries to help.”
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