24 August 2020

British Red Cross CEO calls for international co-operation and a move ‘beyond present debates’ and ‘easier narratives’ to protect people claiming asylum

Mike Adamson, Chief Executive of the Red Cross, is urging all nations and all agencies to look for what he calls ‘bigger solutions’ in the debate around migrants claiming asylum in the UK.   
Last week sadly saw the death in the English Channel of a young Sudanese man attempting the journey from France. He drowned after setting out in a tiny dinghy to navigate the 20 or so miles of water between Calais and Dover. 
Writing in a letter to The Times newspaper today (Monday 24 August), Mike Adamson commended the developing countries where nine out of ten of the world’s refugees are being supported. He offered an alternative perspective to current commentaries in Europe that focus only on tackling trafficking and people smugglers. 
Mr Adamson said that for wealthier countries to fully play their part ‘requires collaboration between countries, not least across the EU to protect people, but also with countries on the migration trail to provide people with practical support and, critically, information.’ 

Mike Adamson’s letter to The Times is reproduced in full below: 

 Sir, Debates surrounding the tragic death of a Sudanese man this week have ignored the fact that the number of people attempting to cross the Channel to our shores is tiny compared with the global challenge (“When you see them freezing and wet, I defy anyone not to feel pity”, News Aug 22). In Europe last year, Germany had four times the number of asylum applications and France three times. Sweden, Greece, Spain and even Hungary have also all had more applications than the UK.  
At the Red Cross I have seen first-hand that nine out of ten people forced to flee their homes due to conflict, persecution, disaster and discrimination are supported in countries with far more challenged health systems and economies than in Europe. We must commend these nations for the humanitarian role they play, as well as the international support that makes that possible. They are doing all they can and it’s only right that we are too.  
This requires collaboration between countries, not least across the EU, to protect people, but also with the countries on the migration trail to provide people with practical support and, critically, information. We need to move beyond present debates that speak too little about the humanity of the people how are risking and losing their lives. We must resist easier narratives. The issues are bigger than the actions of smugglers and traffickers who exploit vulnerable people. Nations and agencies must look for bigger solutions. 
Michael Adamson 
Chief Executive, British Red Cross

Read more from British Red Cross CEO Mike Adamson on why there are no easy answers to this complex issue.

For further information or to arrange an interview with Mike Adamson: 

  • press@redcross.org.uk 
  • 0207 877 7557 - Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm
  • 07710 391703 -Out of hours (media only) 


Channel crossings international co-operation needed to protect people