Thursday

21st Jun 2018

Interview

David Miliband: EU should take over 500,000 refugees

David Miliband, Britain's former foreign minister turned humanitarian charity chief, is pressing the EU to accept some 540,000 resettled refugees over five years.

In an interview with EUobserver on Monday (20 November), Miliband said Europe can either accept unregulated irregular migration or make a better effort of creating legal pathways.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... our join as a group

"The point is that the vast bulk of refugees are in poor countries, not in European countries," he said, noting that most are stranded in places like Ethiopia, Kenya, Jordan Lebanon, Pakistan and Uganda.

But his proposed figure far outstrips the recent 50,000 places floated by the European Commission over a two-year period.

The EU parliament suggested 250,000 refugees. Talks are also under way among the EU institutions to create a more permanent resettlement plan.

But given the political toxicity surrounding migration among some EU states, a full commitment on behalf of national governments remains far from guaranteed. Such issues have already undermined German government coalition efforts and seen a swing towards right-wing politics.

War in Iraq and Donald Trump

Miliband heads the International Rescue Committee (IRC), an international humanitarian organisation based in New York. It is a post he took up in 2013 after leaving behind British politics.

As a minister in Tony Blair's education department, he voted in 2003 to support the government's decision to go to war in Iraq.

The same war has in part been blamed for the rise of the Islamic State, whose genesis spurred terrorists attacks in capitals like Brussels, Berlin, London, and Paris.

He has since described the pro-war stand in Iraq as his "biggest mistake in government" given the lack of evidence of weapons of mass destruction.

Asked if the West has played a part in creating the biggest exodus of refugees since the Second World War, Miliband laid the blame on fragile states and on the division in what he calls the international system.

"It is important that western nations take their own responsibilities seriously," he said.

He said a crisis of diplomacy allows wars to continue, noting the US administration under Donald Trump is reducing international relations into a zero-sum game.

"It is impossible to overstate the significance of the shift that the Trump administration represents," he said.

The end result is that some 65 million people have been forcibly displaced.

But he also describes the Trump-imposed shift as an opportunity for Europe to demonstrate to the world the values it represents in terms of providing refugees a source of hope.

"Either it [Europe] stands up for its values and its place in the multilateral system or it sees the system whither around her," he said.

Book and Brexit

Miliband was speaking ahead of a launch in Brussels of his 160-page book entitled Rescue.

The book provides an overview of the current refugee crisis and describes his experiences meeting people at the Za'atari refugee camp in Jordan, Dadaab in eastern Kenya, and elsewhere.

Among the plans, he writes, is to distribute 25 percent of the IRC's international assistance in cash by 2020. It suggests giving refugees more help in terms of cash assistance in an effort to empower them.

He also takes a stab at globalisation, which he says is "too unequal, too unstable, and too insecure for its own good."

Asked to how to make it more equal and stable, he says the solutions are found in more employment and education. That includes allowing refugees to work in the countries they are in.

The book also rings on a personal note and describes how his father fled Nazi persecution from his home in Brussels in 1940 to find refuge in the UK.

"My dad was born on the rue de Merode, rue Merode doesn't exist in the way that it used to, 70 or 80 years ago but of course I always feel like a European when I'm here," he told EUobserver.

But being European, he notes, also has its complications given Brexit.

With the United Kingdom set to leave the European Union, Miliband doubts Britain's exit will actually 'end' in March 2019.

"It is going to be long process, not only because of the transition but also because of the disentangling and adjustments to this enormous economic shock," he said.

MEPs propose taking in over 200,000 refugees

MEPs in the civil liberties committee voted in favour of taking in more refugees than the Commission wants to or than member states are likely to accept.

UN criticises EU policy in Libya as 'inhuman'

The EU's policy of helping the Libyan coast guard to return people plucked from the sea is "inhuman", says the UN's human rights chief, given that most end up in dire conditions.

German coalition talks collapse

The liberal Free Democratic Party pulled out of coalition talks late Sunday night, saying it is 'better not to rule than to rule wrongly'. It is unclear what happens next.

Opinion

Fate of EU refugee deal hangs in the balance

Europe's choice is between unplanned, reactive, fragmented, ineffective migration policy and planned, regulated, documented movements of people, writes International Rescue Committee chief David Miliband.

Opinion

EU summit: migrants get a 'vote' too

Non-citizens from Nigeria to Afghanistan get a binding 'vote' on whatever the EU's internal debates submit to them. They will vote with their feet on whether to keep trying their luck when faced with a new system.

News in Brief

  1. Romania's ruling party leader gets jail sentence
  2. EU states defer individual decisions on asylum reforms
  3. Commission opens case on Qatar gas flow
  4. EU adopts posted workers directive
  5. EU leaders to call for 'coordinated plan' on AI
  6. May passes Brexit bill after rebels accept compromise
  7. Pope: populists 'creating a psychosis' on migrants
  8. MEPs want to restrict use of antibiotics

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  2. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMHRMI Launches Lawsuits Against Individuals and Countries Involved in Changing Macedonia's Name
  3. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  4. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  6. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  8. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  10. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  11. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  2. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersCooperation in Nordic Electricity Market Considered World Class Model
  4. FIFAGreen Stadiums at the 2018 Fifa World Cup
  5. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Work Together to Promote Sustainable Development
  6. Counter BalanceEuropean Ombudsman Requests More Lending Transparency from European Investment Bank
  7. FIFARecycling at the FIFA World Cup in Russia
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  9. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and Reconciliation Is a Process That Takes Decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  10. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up
  11. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOld White Men are Destroying Macedonia by Romanticizing Greece
  12. Counter BalanceControversial EIB-Backed Project Under Fire at European Parliament

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us