The tragedy on the Italian coast highlights our need for compassion

The tragic death off the coast of Italy of more than 50 refugees, including a baby, is a poignant reminder that European nations including Britain have, with some outstanding exceptions, failed to face up to the scale of the flow of people seeking safety.

Even now, when there have been a number of such incidents causing loss of life, there seems to be little will on the part of governments to live up to their moral and legal obligations to offer asylum where it is justified under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

Worse still, some governments – including that of the UK – actively seek to renounce or evade such duties of care to the destitute and desperate. Instead, they demonise these people by using terms such as “invasion” and “illegal immigrants”. Such erroneous and violent language, much repeated, is readily taken up by the far-right groups that have launched a campaign of hate against refugees staying in hotels across the country.


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