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Immigration crisis demands response

THE waves of humanity overflowing from north Africa and washing up on the shores of Europe is one of the great tragedies of our time.

Poverty, war and oppression are compelling reasons for fleeing a homeland - more migrants are now reckoned to come from Syria than anywhere else - and it is understandable why so many grab the chance, no matter how slender and dangerous it seems, to seek a future in Europe, even when that too seems uncertain at best.

The thousands, mostly young men, making the perilous journey across the Mediterranean Ocean in rickety boats unquestionably believe it is better than whatever other alternatives they face.

Britain is among the favoured destinations, with particular pressure placed on the English Channel crossing from the French port of Calais.

It is estimated that 4,000 migrants are camped out around Calais at any one time, with between 100 and 150 added to their number daily.

At least 20,000 migrants are thought to have attempted to get from Calais to England by stowing away since the start of the year.

A strike this week by French ferry workers has further highlighted the crisis, including the difficulties faced by lorry drivers, many of whom are Irish.

They report how that when they stop their vehicles, migrants break into trailers in search of hiding places while others cling to the underside of the lorries.

Prime minister David Cameron spoke yesterday of how scenes of hundreds of people attempting to board lorries and illegally enter the UK was unacceptable.

Also unacceptable are the circumstances that leave people with a sense of despair so strong that they feel they have no option but to follow such dangerous courses of action.

It is a humanitarian scandal which transcends national politics and needs to be urgently addressed.

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