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Compassion must be at the heart of our migration policy, says Long

Alliance Leader Naomi Long MEP spoke during the plenary session at the European Parliament in Brussels today, using her platform to call for the immediate closure of a camp for migrants in Vučjak, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and for the authorities to “provide safe, clean and habitable accommodation for those who are currently languishing there.”

Mrs Long made clear that “the UK and Ireland have a role to play - along with every other EU nation - to end the cruel and callous treatment of migrants.”

“We are living through the consequences of our own pandering to the far right on issues of immigration, asylum and international development aid. We saw that pandering in our own Parliament a few weeks ago when people disgracefully voted down the motion on Search and Rescue in the Mediterranean.”

“Whether it’s in a lorry in England, a capsized boat in the Mediterranean or a former landfill in rural Bosnia, how many more people will die before we get our act together?”

“Now is the time to ensure that compassion is at the heart of our migration policy and to hold those who fall short to account.”

Mrs Long’s full speech is as follows:

Without urgent and immediate action, thousands of people in Bosnia could die this winter.

The Bosnian authorities must immediately close the camp at Vučjak and provide safe, clean and habitable accommodation for those who are currently languishing there. International aid NGOs, from Médecins Sans Frontières to Red Cross and Red Crescent have been clear from the outset about the unsuitable nature of this camp: without clean water and sanitation, without proper medical care and located in areas still land-mined from the conflict.

Those warnings must be heeded, urgently.

But remember this is not just a Bosnian problem.

It was created by the European Union and it can only be resolved by joint action and cooperation across the European Union.

Earlier this year, the Commission declared Europe’s migrant crisis over, but that is not the experience of the people in Vučjak. They’re living out their own personal migrant crises every day.

I may be from a group of islands in the far north-west reaches of the EU, at the opposite end of Europe. But as much as some at home may wish it were, this cannot be a case of out-of-sight-out-of-mind.

The UK and Ireland have a role to play - along with every other EU nation - to end the cruel and callous treatment of migrants.

We are living through the consequences of our own pandering to the far right on issues of immigration, asylum and international development aid. We saw that pandering in our own Parliament a few weeks ago when people disgracefully voted down the motion on Search and Rescue in the Mediterranean.

Whether it’s in a lorry in England, a capsized boat in the Mediterranean or a former landfill in rural Bosnia, how many more people will die before we get our act together?

Every EU Member State must facilitate a safe pathway for migrants and humane treatment for them while their applications to remain are considered. The proof is overwhelming and horrifying: Closing our borders does not work. It costs lives.

Now is the time to ensure that compassion is at the heart of our migration policy and to hold those who fall short to account.

MEP