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The real debate on immigration

A rescue worker tends a young migrant girl after she was rescued by a Spanish coast guard vessel in the port of Tarifa
Unlike Katie Hopkins, I don’t believe she’s “a cockroach.” Photo: Sergio Camacho/Getty Images

“Close the borders. Shut all the doors. Send them all back.”

These are the words we so often hear when we talk about immigration. What we don’t talk about is the very real and dangerous risks people take just to seek a safer life.

As many of you will have seen in the news, earlier this week 400 people drowned off the coast of Libya, including many children, as they sought safe haven in Europe.

This is what we feared might happen when the EU decided not to replace an Italian search-and-rescue mission at the end of last year.

Paying the ultimate price

Unfortunately this isn’t the only time something this horrific has happened. This year alone, around 1000 people have paid the ultimate price when trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea.

Last year, close to 3,500 people, many of them children, drowned and yesterday we heard more awful news from the region: the Italian coastguard confirmed that 40 more people drowned off the coast of Sicily.

These deaths are the true cost of the EU’s policies. This crisis is not going away. That’s why I’m proud that this week Save the Children launched a campaign to restart those rescues.

Incredible response

In the last 24 hours we’ve had an incredible response. Over 10,000 people have signed our petition and our social media accounts have been flooded with positive comments from supporters. Celebrities like Lauren Laverne and Dom Jolly have expressed support too.

Crucially, many party leaders from across the political spectrum have come out in support of the campaign too.

More good news is that the campaign has had some great media coverage and has been featured in lots of national newspapers and on the telly too, backing our call to do more.

Crossing the line

Not all the media coverage has been positive though. This week, we’ve also seen a dark side of Britain.

In a newspaper today, Katie Hopkins, a well-known columnist, crossed the line, stating that she didn’t care if migrants die. She said children trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea from war torn Libya were “like cockroaches” and were built to survive a nuclear bomb.

She failed to address the fact that many of these people were fleeing war and abject poverty.

She failed to relate to the fact that these people took tremendous risks, simply in search of a better life.

Enough is enough

As a campaigner here at save the children, I’m proud that we’re saying enough is enough. We don’t think children and their mothers and fathers are cockroaches; we think that they’re human beings.

Next week, we’ll be working with other Save the Children members across Europe to step up the pressure and build a stronger campaign.

Thank you again to all of you who have been involved or supported the campaign in any way. If you haven’t already, please sign and share our petition. Together we’ll win this fight.

Sign our petition to UK party leaders urging them to push for the EU to restart the rescues

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