This statement calls for an urgent, humane and effective governmental response to the refugee crisis.
Its signatories are economists in public institutions, academia, think tanks and private consultancy.
It has 126 signatories comprising:
We believe that the UK’s response to the refugee crisis is seriously inadequate.
The costs in human wellbeing of the refugee crisis, however calculated, are so extremely high that it is morally unacceptable for the UK not to play a fuller part in taking in refugees.
The UK’s current offer of 20,000 resettlement places spread over five years, only open to those still outside the EU, and only open to Syrians, is too low, too slow and too narrow.
As the world’s fifth largest economy, the UK can do far more. The UK in its recent history has taken in far higher numbers of asylum seekers and refugees and at far greater speed and managed it well (some 85,000 people claimed asylum in the UK in 2002 alone, for example).
Refugees should be taken in because they are morally and legally entitled to international protection, not because of the economic advantages they may bring. Nonetheless, it is important to note that the economic contribution of refugees and their descendants to the UK has been high (for example the Ugandan Asian refugees, whose arrival in Britain in 1972 was greeted with initial anxiety, went on to make an ‘extraordinary contribution’ to British life, as the Prime Minister has observed).
The Government’s current policy is based on the misguided premise that refugees will be deterred from travelling to the EU by refusing to take in those who have arrived and by refusing to offer safe or legal routes by which to come. That misunderstands the intolerable ‘push’ factors that are forcing people out of countries of persecution and from neighbouring countries in which a humanitarian disaster is escalating in the camps. It is the parallel of the Government’s earlier policy of trying to ‘deter’ travel by scaling down search and rescue in the Mediterranean- a failed policy which cost lives. Instead, the failure to offer safe, legal routes into the EU is forcing refugees to rely on the services of people smugglers and to risk death and injury; and the failure to take in refugees from other EU member states is contributing to a further humanitarian disaster in the peripheral EU countries this winter.
Nor does the current lack of safe, legal routes into the EU for refugees protect security - rather it outsources immigration control to people smugglers and generates chaos, suffering and death at the EU's periphery.
We therefore call on the UK government to urgently adopt a refugee policy which abides by the following four principles:
The signatories of this letter have all signed in a personal capacity.
Institutional affiliations are provided for identification purposes only.