The BBC’s current affairs debate show was in Cardiff on Thursday night only a day after the country was shaken by the death of 27 people who drowned trying to reach UK shores. At the start of the show, one member of the audience asked the panel why there seemed to be no short term actions taken to save those refugees while debates and talks continued.
She said: “We’ve started a conversation saying we have lost 27 people but the reality is we have lost hundreds if not thousands of people and we have to bring this to the forefront of things.”
Almost 300 asylum seekers including 36 children have died trying to cross the Channel to the UK in the past 20 years, according to data collated by the Institute of Race Relations.
However, many more died on their journey from their home country to the one where they seek asylum.
“All I hear Britain saying now is ‘France should do this, France should do that.’
“Why did we leave the EU for a start if we now need all these countries?”
She added: “These people have lost everything, they’ve lost their livelihoods, their homes, every single thing they knew including their children, please tell me how are these people are supposed to go through applications processes?
“If we know they’re human, why aren’t we doing more and what are we going to do?
“We can’t keep losing people at sea, this is not a Titanic event anymore, this is real.”
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Labour MS Eluned Morgan answered the question by highlighting just how desperate those trying to cross the Channel are.
“We’ve got to open possibilities in France for people to apply for asylum from there. The French have not said no to that yet, they refused joint operations on the beaches.
“The irony is that there was a method to do this when we were part of the EU and that’s opportunity is now gone.”
The Welsh Health Minister then suggested Priti Patel was to blame for the 306 percent increase in the number of people coming across the Channel this year compared to 2020.
Ms Morgan said: “It’s on her watch that this has happened. This is the person that had stirred up this anti-migrant rhetoric for years and it’s time it stopped.”
But the ex-Justice Secretary Robert Buckland suggested the crisis should be examined from the root in countries torn by war.
The Tory MP for South Swindon said the UK chose to help Syria as “one of the bigger spenders in aid” at the beginning of its crisis to “make sure that people who had to leave Syria because of displacement were able to stay closer to that country of origin rather than making a very dangerous journey”.
Mr Buckland went on to say that he would be in favour of opening “clearing centres at the borders of Europe.”
These could be similar to the one Italy created on the Lampedusa island.
However, the centre has proved its ineffectiveness since 2015 as smugglers from Africa sell £1,300 tickets for the three-day boat crossing to Lampedusa.
Italian intelligence reportedly estimates that 50-70,000 people may be on Libya’s shores waiting to take a similar journey.