Migrant Crisis: David Cameron Under Pressure as U.K. Urged to Do More

David Cameron faces migrant crisis
Refugees hold up placards reading "I missed my family - Syria" and "We are under siege" near the Keleti train station in Budapest, Hungary September 2. British prime minister, David Cameron is now under pressure to do more, as increasing numbers of migrants arrive in Europe. Leonhard Foeger/Retuers

Taking in "more and more refugees" is not the answer to Europe's growing migrant crisis, U.K. prime minister David Cameron told the BBC on Wednesday, rather the answer is instead to bring "peace and stability" to regions from which people are trying to escape, such as war-torn Syria.

Pressure has grown on the prime minister to take action in the wake of a tragic photo showing a dead Syrian child who had washed up on a Turkish beach, after the inflatable dinghy he was in with his family capsized on Tuesday night as they attempted to reach Greece.

The prime minister, when asked about growing calls from Europe for the U.K. to do more, responded, "We are taking action right across the board - we're helping the countries from which these people are coming, stabilising them and trying to make sure that there are worthwhile jobs and stronger economies there.

"We're obviously taking action at Calais, in terms of the Channel - there's more that we need to do, and we're working together with our European partners as well. These are big challenges, but we'll meet them."

The United Kingdom granted 14,605 asylum applications in 2014, compared to 47,555 in Germany and 33,025 in Sweden. Taking into account the relative sizes of countries, the UK took 218 asylum seekers per 1 million population, compared to Sweden, which took 3,424 asylum seekers per 1 million, according to Eurostat. In the past, Cameron has made it clear that he does not want to join any EU resettlement scheme where mandatory quotas would be imposed on Britain.

The photo of the Syrian boy follows the tragedy last week in Austria, when 71 decomposing bodies of migrants were found in the back of an abandoned Hungarian truck, having suffocated as they tried to reach western Europe by relying on people smugglers.

Meanwhile, the calls from Europe for Britain to share the burden of the greatest influx of refugees in Europe since World War II, are growing. 107,500 asylum seekers and migrants fleeing countries such as Syria, Afghanistan and Eritrea arrived in Europe in July alone, according to Frontex.

Germany expects 800,000 asylum applications this year—four times last year's total. Stephan Mayer, a spokesman on home affairs for Angela Merkel's CDU/CSU alliance, told The Times newspaper: "If the British government is continuing to hold this position that Great Britain is out of the club in this big task in sharing the [migrant] burden, certainly this could do some harm to the bilateral British-German relationship, and certainly also to David Cameron's ambitions to be successful in the renegotiation [of Britain's EU relationship]."

At home too, pressure is growing. Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the head of the Catholic church in England and Wales, told ITV news: on Wednesday that the crisis was a "disgrace. That we are letting people die and seeing dead bodies on the beaches, when together, Europe is such a wealthy place. We should be able to fashion a short-term response, not just a long-term response."

The Labour leader candidates have also been lining up to criticize the prime minister. Yvette Cooper has called for the U.K. to take in 10,000 more refugees, a view echoed by her rivals. In a speech at the Royal United Services Institute, Andy Burnham said, "This is a humanitarian crisis, not just a tedious inconvenience for British holidaymakers, as our government might have us believe."

Tim Farron, the Liberal Democrat leader, added his voice to the calls. "Enough is enough," he told The Independent newspaper, referring to the photos of the Syrian boy. "These pictures are beyond horrific. They are the wake-up call David Cameron needs," he added.

Migrant Crisis: David Cameron Under Pressure as U.K. Urged to Do More | World