Updated: Wednesday, 13th November 2019 @ 5:02pm

'It's very frustrating': French PM's claim that migration is 'great risk' to EU slammed by Manchester refugee charity

'It's very frustrating': French PM's claim that migration is 'great risk' to EU slammed by Manchester refugee charity

| By Simon Allin

The French Prime Minister’s comments saying that migration poses a ‘great risk’ to the EU have been described as ‘frustrating’ by a Manchester charity.

Speaking to the BBC, Manuel Valls said Europe could not take in all the potential refugees without destabilising member countries’ societies, adding that ‘if Europe is not capable of protecting its borders, the very idea of Europe will be questioned’.

Yasmine Nahlawi of Rethink Rebuild told MM that whilst politicians may believe that migrants have a destabilising effect, migrants themselves are merely focussing on ‘contributing to society’.

“It’s very frustrating because when you talk to the refugees they say ‘actually we want to contribute to society, we want to work and be productive’,” she said.

“But many times they encounter obstacles to them being productive.

“They would very much welcome the opportunity to work and pay taxes.

“Bear in mind that many of these people are professionals, they were successful individuals in their own countries but they had to leave out of necessity and they’re eager to get that back up and running.

“It’s a struggle in the beginning for them to be able to go through the system and as you know as an asylum seeker you can’t even work.”

Those struggles are something that Ms Nahlawi is familiar with, as Rethink Rebuild have seen their workload increase massively with the migrant crisis in Europe.

Ms Nahlawi explained that refugees want to integrate but face obstacles that prevent them from contributing to the societies that take them in.

And she explained to MM how she feels that the government could work to make refugee’s transition into society more seamless.

“We have a full-time refugee service here in Manchester and we deal with about 20 inquiries per day from Syrians, not just in Manchester but all over the country,” she said.

“What we’ve seen is they want to integrate, they want to learn English, they desperately want to convert their qualifications and start working in one of the professions, but they see so many obstacles.

“They’re not given the means of integrating, and they need more support from the Government in learning the language at a minimum, and second of all in working to establish themselves in line with their professions and their backgrounds.”

On Friday, 42 migrants were reported to have drowned in two separate shipwrecks in the Aegean Sea as they attempted to reach Greece.

However, attitudes in Europe have hardened since incidents in Germany on New Year’s Eve, when hundreds of women were assaulted by asylum seekers.

Ms Nahlawi said she hoped the achievements made since last August, when there was an ‘outpouring of support’ for refugees, would not be undermined.

“I think that in the past few months there’s been so much compassion from the general British public and from people all across Europe, and I think that that it does create a momentum that is going to be sustained,” she said.

“But at the same time obviously there are going to be efforts to undermine this, because this cohesion, this unity, this welcoming manner is unfortunately not welcomed by other people.

“Until we succeed in addressing the root causes of the conflict, we need to take in the refugees that are going to be fleeing both these conflicts, so Europe needs to have more concerted efforts to provide safety for those people.”

Image courtesy of On n'est pas couché, via Youtube, with thanks