LONDON, United Kingdom – The British government has finally bowed to international pressure and agreed to take 20,000 more Syrian refugees than it otherwise would have done. The announcement was made by the Prime Minister who claimed evacuating Syrians was the modern equivalent of the refuge Britain gave to Jewish children before WWII.
The British have faced increased pressure from the international community and the European Union (EU) to take more refugees ever since the crisis in Syria began. This was further ratcheted up last week when France agreed to take 24,000 Syrians.
Britain has remained largely immune from the refugee crisis because it is not part of the EU's Schengen Agreement. Under the scheme most EU countries no-longer patrol their borders, meaning migrants who get into Italy are not stopped until they get to the British border with France.
The refusal of the British to join Schengen has long angered the EU, not least because the British border with France is located in France. This means refugees are turned away before they get onto ferries or trains bound for Britain.
As the Syrian crisis has unfolded Britain responded by upping security at the border, and offering to build a secure lorry park so trucks are not attacked by migrants. Until today the UK had refused to open the border or allow any extra migrants through the refugee system
"We will continue to show the world that this country is a country of extra compassion, always standing up for our values and helping those in need," Mr Cameron told the House of Commons
"Britain will play its part alongside our other European partners but because we're not part of the EU's borderless Schengen agreement or its relocation initiative Britain is able to decide its own approach
"We will continue with our approach of taking refugees from the camps and elsewhere in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon. This provides refugees with a more direct and safe route to the UK rather than risking the hazardous journey to European which has tragically cost so many lives.
Although the British have agreed to take more Syrians, the country has refused to include anyone who is in Europe already. Instead it will select vulnerable people from camps in Syria and surrounding countries. This effectively means refugees trying to travel to the UK without permission will still be turned away
News of the British climb down comes as Hungry demanded Germany stop offering to take refugees. Migrants have been using the land route through Hungry to get to a number of other EU countries, leading to a major crisis in the country
Hungry's Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, has warned that Europe risks destruction if it allowed it “Christian welfare state” to be deluged with immigrants. In the coming days, Hungary is planning to "seal off" its southern border with Serbia, and is building a fence along its border with the country to stop any more immigration. Serbia is not in the EU so this new fence is legal, despite Schengen
Orban had previously warned: "For us today, what is at stake is Europe, the lifestyle of European citizens, European values, the survival or disappearance of European nations, and more precisely formulated, their transformation beyond recognition“Today, the question is not merely in what kind of a Europe we would like to live, but whether everything we understand as Europe will exist at all."