Pictures of refugees from Syria, on the Hungarian border and then passing on into Austria before travelling on to Germany where the first arrivals have been welcomed. What struck from the images at Munich station is how far Germany has moved from its history of Nazism. Angela Merkel’s leadership contracts with that of David Cameron whose response to the crisis has made me ashamed to be British. Similarly the EU approach suggests to me that Nationalistic responses are also very concerning. In simple terms I think a unified approach to Syrian and other refugees is needed which allows them instant access once initial checks have been made and to allow them to choose their destination which will require all EU countries including the UK to accept more refugees. I do agree that refugees in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey need financial support to remain there, with an entitlement to services which include education. Russian intervention in Syria has shown how important an agreed UN led peace process there needs to start which must include the refugees safe return as soon as possible. With IS I think UN action against Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, Iran and Turkey to end their involvement in Syria and financial support for different groups. It’s also my view that a UN led coalition to ‘put boots on the ground’ in Syria to defeat IS and other extreme groups fighting with them as well as ending support for the Syrian Free Army.
My main reason for writing this post is to remind readers that refugees are still dying at sea on the routes from Libya to Italy and Turkey to Greece. While there have been responses for refugees once they reach EU borders the sea dangers haven’t been addressed fully through Navy ships rescuing refugees whose boats are capsizing or sink. I’ve recently found out about an Isle of Wight based Company called Unique which has developed and made inflatable floats which can be used to save refugees in the time from when they abandon ships to when they are rescued. These ‘Centifloats’ as they are called are 25 Metre long floats which have rope grabs on them for 100 people. Two Centifloats have been used in a rescue on the route between Libya and Italy which saved approximately 700 migrants from a perilously-overloaded and unstable wooden boat on Thursday 6th August 2015 by the Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) Foundation. I spoke with Ben Board who the Centifloat project manager last week who told me that 20 floats have been manufactured, some of which have been funded through an appeal by Isle of Wight Radio. Additionally the new floats have been adapted to allow them to be connected so that babies and children can be placed there safely. I’m planning to make a donation to Centifloats. If anyone is interested in them and wants also to inform friends there’s information about them on the internet. If you want more information from Unique and to make a donation you can do so on http://www.uniquegroup.com/centfloat where there’s a donate button.