At least 37 refugees drowned off the Turkish coast last Sunday, including babies and children, when their boat struck rocks.
Gulcan Durdu was woken by the screaming. “I thought somebody was being murdered,” she told the Associated Press news agency.
“I will never stop hearing those cries for the rest of my life. It was terrible. They died screaming. It was dark. We were only able to save those who were able to swim ashore.”
The disaster brought the number of refugees drowned entering Europe last month to 281—up from 82 last January and 12 in January 2014.
But David Cameron has rejected a call from charity Save the Children to take in 3,000 orphaned child refugees who are already in Europe.
It took a protracted legal fight to get even those child refugees with close family in Britain to come across from refugee settlements in Calais and Dunkirk. Courts ruled last week that Britain had a legal obligation to let them claim asylum here.
Disgracefully, in a jibe at Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, Cameron called it “laughable” that a “bunch of migrants”—even children—should come to Britain.
Days later the European Union (EU) crime agency reported that thousands of refugee children may be being exploited by criminal gangs.
And around 100 racist thugs in Sweden’s capital Stockholm carried out an organised, violent attack on young Moroccan refugees.
Reluctantly, the government agreed to give £10 million more in aid for refugees fleeing Syria.
But Cameron argues that taking in refugees would encourage others to follow.
And he was one of the main proponents of a new treaty between the EU and Turkey that clamps down on refugees.
Over 120 economists including former government, UN and World Bank officials slammed his logic in an open letter.
They argued that refugees will continue to come because of the “intolerable” conditions they are fleeing. Trying to “deter” them is a “failed policy that costs lives”.
Cameron knows that he is driving people to their deaths. It will take a mass movement to stop this.
Building a huge turnout on the anti-racist demonstrations on Saturday 19 March must be a priority.
Politicians' dirty deals restrict migrants' rights
Former defence minister and figurehead of the Tory right Liam Fox gave a hate-filled rant against refugees last week.
He exploited the sexual assaults that took place in the German city of Cologne, and warned of “terrorists using the cover of refugee status”.
The speech was part of Fox’s attempt to wangle his way to the front of a campaign for a vote to leave the European Union (EU) in the coming referendum.
At the same time Cameron tried to reach a dirty deal with EU leaders that could let him restrict the rights of migrant workers from EU countries.
For the first time Britain would be allowed to put a temporary “emergency brake” on benefits to people from EU countries.
It would be unlikely to be used in practice, as Britain would have to show its benefit system was under intolerable strain.
Migrant workers claim fewer benefits than those born in Britain. And they pay more in tax than they receive from the state.
It was a reminder that the EU offers no alternative to Fox’s anti-immigrant racism.
Leaks to campaign group Statewatch last week confirmed EU plans to criminalise volunteers who rescue refugees off Greek islands.
And the Tories’ Immigration Bill threatens to bring in a raft of discriminatory measures against non-EU migrants.
These would further legitimise racism and undermine universal public services.
The bill would also take away the already pitiful £36 a week payment that some asylum seekers receive.