Dead migrants Thousands of migrants are thought to have drowned in 2015, fleeing war, civil war and desperate poverty. Image Reuters

The migrant crisis is not a threat to Britain but a human catastrophe for those fleeing for their lives, often as a result of Western intervention

Phillip Hammond’s latest comments on migrants marked a new low in levels of ignorance and inhumanity on the subject from a government already plumbing the depths.

There can rarely have been a Foreign Secretary who got elementary demographic facts so wrong.  In particular his claim that ‘millions’ of African ‘marauders’ are trying to get into Europe is a complete fabrication.

Germany, the favoured destination of by far the largest number of migrants into Europe, is expected to get a total of 400,000 asylum applications this year. And most of these won’t be from Africa.

On the assumption that Hammond checks available figures, he must be deliberately making things up. It has been widely reported that Just recently Syria overtook Afghanistan as the main source of refugees into Europe.

For his information, neither of these countries are in Africa. In fact according to the government’s own figures in the last year only two out of the top five countries of origin of refugees coming into Europe are in Africa. 

Hammond claims that a huge influx of Africans is a threat to social stability in Britain. There are around 5,000 migrants in Calais at the moment.

Contrary to the media and political spin, most migrants coming to Europe don’t want to come to Britain, because it is widely known that the government treats migrants unusually badly, with lower levels of welfare than many European countries.

Experts agree that those people fleeing for their lives who do want to come to Britain, tend to be people who think they have a good chance of finding work here, or already have family connections.

Police figures suggests that less than one per cent of the population in London have immigration irregularities. If this is correct then the usual figures quoted for the number of ‘illegal immigrants’ in Britain are hugely inflated. And the overwhelming majority of these don’t go anywhere near the channel tunnel. 80% enter the country legally.

The migrant crisis is not a threat to Britain but a human catastrophe for those fleeing for their lives. Apart from creating a poisonous anti immigrant atmosphere, perhaps one of the reasons that Hammond is distorting the facts is that he wants to obscure the causes of the current crisis.

Reading the actual list of the refugees’ main countries of origin  - Syria, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Iraq, Iran, Egypt according to research by Sky News - it is quite clear that western wars are one of the main drivers of these huge flows of desperate people. 

Many of these countries have been devastated by wars pursued by successive British and other Western governments.

If anyone was in any doubt, today’s revelation that British soldiers have been fighting in Syria without the knowledge – let alone the agreement – of parliament, underlines the current government’s commitment to continued foreign aggression.

The terrible plight of those fleeing war is one more reason to strengthen the campaign against further intervention.

Chris Nineham

Chris Nineham is a founder member of Stop the War and Counterfire, speaking regularly around the country on behalf of both. He is author of The People Versus Tony Blair and Capitalism and Class Consciousness: the ideas of Georg Lukacs.

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