August 29: Time to face up to asylum crisis

THERE WILL be hard-hearted individuals, at the end of a week which saw migration levels reach a record high, who will be imploring David Cameron to pull up the drawbridges so Britain can wash its hands over those asylum seekers resorting to desperate measures in order to seek refuge in Europe.

This plight has been tragically illustrated by the shocking discovery of 71 bodies in a lorry in Austria – these are people who trusted their futures to fate and suffered an unimaginable death. They’re not alone. 
Barely week goes by without reports of a catastrophe in the Mediterranean Sea as overloaded boats carrying asylum-seekers capsize.

At a time when the political dialogue in Britain has been inflamed by broken promises on immigration, it should be remembered that there is a clear difference between those people who choose to move for economic reasons – and those who are fleeing persecution and who seek asylum in a safe haven.

Yet, as refugees from north Africa undertake the journey to mainland Europe, it is clear that there is not the political apparatus in place to deal with this unfolding humanitarian catastrophe and those refugees who have tried to reach Britain via the Channel Tunnel – the EU’s supine response has simply encouraged the impoverished to make a journey into the unknown rather than address the root causes of this crisis.

This will only happen if the European Union and United Nations put in place measures to help rebuild the broken economies of those countries from which the desperate are fleeing in record numbers.

Not only is this critical to the failed states having a more stable future – they depend on their young people becoming successful individuals in their country of birth – but it will also help to ease the growing pressure on Europe’s creaking borders.

Adoption angst: don’t forget the children in care

NOT for the first time, those in charge of adoption services appear to have lost sight of the fact that the most important people of all are those vulnerable children who find themselves at the mercy of a dysfunctional care system. These are youngsters who simply want the stability offered by a loving environment, and who have been denied this right because of family circumstances.

Yet, while there has always been a shortage of prospective parents willing to adopt a young child, this has been exacerbated by a High Court ruling which now places the onus on social services staff to demonstrate that “all realistic options” had been considered before ties are severed between the youngster and their birth family. This pronouncement appears to overlook the fact that local authorities consider the suitability of relatives, like grandparents, aunts and uncles, to become guardians for at-risk children before the decision is taken to place them in care.

By allowing this process to become open-ended, it is clearly deterring those mothers and fathers who would love nothing more than to raise a child – but continue to be put off by the legal and bureaucratic obstacles which are becoming increasingly insurmountable. Of course, there need to be safeguards when youngsters are adopted– this goes without saying – but there does need to be a subtle shift in emphasis so the welfare needs of children in care do take precedence at all times. Without the stability offered by those willing to adopt, there’s an increased likelihood that these children will become tomorrow’s tearaways.

Out of bounds: Yorkshire’s bid for Solheim Cup

IT is disappointing that Yorkshire’s bid to host the 2019 Solheim Cup, one of the premier events of world golf and which sees Europe’s best female golfers compete against their American counterparts for supremacy, has been left bunkered at the first hole. Not only has this event never been staged in England previously, but the proposed venue – the historic Ganton Golf Club near Scarborough – would have provided competitors with the most formidable of challenges.

Yet the potential benefits were not just sporting ones. Hosting such a prestigious event would have provided the East Coast and Ryedale with an unrivalled marketing opportunity to showcase their quiet corner of Yorkshire to the world – it might even have spurred the powers-that-be into upgrading the notorious A64 road from York to Scarborough. That’s why the decision of the Solheim Cup organisers is so shortsighted– this most inspired of bids had the potential to be a game-changer.