Britain should take in more Mediterranean migrants, a senior UN official has said.
Peter Sutherland, who is the UN Secretary General’s special representative on international migration, said the UK was not accepting its fair share, adding that unless it allowed more in it risked creating a climate of “xenophobia and racism”.
He also said that the UK was more negative towards immigration than other nations because the positive case had never been “properly explained”.
Sutherland, who is a former Attorney General of Ireland and chairman of Goldman Sachs International, told the BBC: “The Germans and the Swedes are taking far more per capita than the United Kingdom, and a fair settlement of this issue on the basis of objective criteria – population, GDP, unemployment, whatever issues you think may be appropriate – seems to be a reasonable way of dealing with this.”
His comments were condemned, however, by Conservative MP Andrew Percy, who told the Daily Mail: “These United Nations people should stop mouthing off about things that are none of their business. They are unelected; they don’t represent anyone and they should stop what seems to be a very anti-British sentiment.
“What is happening in the Mediterranean is incredibly sad, but the only beneficiary of this policy of taking in more migrants would be the people smugglers who profit from this horror.
“If we create a route of entry, then that will only encourage more people to take the risk. We need to provide assistance at source, which is what we are doing through our aid budget.”
Former International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell agreed: “Britain has been a leader of the international relief effort for these enormous migration crises. Britain has contributed more humanitarian support than practically the whole of the EU.
“We are putting our shoulder to the wheel. Were the Government to start welcoming migration from Syria and some of these very difficult places in Africa, public support for Britain’s development policy would start to evaporate.”
Sutherland’s intervention is the latest in a string of declarations by UN officials against Britain.
Last month François Crépeau, the UN’s special rapporteur on human rights of migrants, said the UK could “take the path of Nazi Germany” if the Conservatives pulled out of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Meanwhile, last year UN special rapporteur Rashida Manjoo claimed Britain was the most “in your face” sexist country in the world. Her evidence for this assertion was the women were wolf-whistled in the street and government cuts, which she claimed increased society’s entrenched sexism.
Two years ago Brazilian Raquel Rolnik, UN rapporteur for housing, also blasted the government’s austerity policy, saying spending cuts violated people’s human rights. Her outburst led to her being dubbed the “Brazil nut”.