Peter Sutherland, the UN Secretary General’s special representative on international migration and occasional strategic adviser to Goldman Sachs International (also former chairman he retired in June 2015), said the British reaction to the Calais crisis was “grossly excessive”.
In 2013, University College Dublin law school was renamed the Sutherland School of Law in his honour, following his financial contribution to the newly completed law teaching facility, the gentleman is clearly as respected as he is esteemed.
The great majority of migrants heading to Europe are genuine refugees, he said, and Britain receives far fewer applications for sanctuary than other European countries.
He said calls to stop economic migrants entering the UK are “a xenophobic response to the issue of free movement”.
He told the BBC: “In my opinion, the debate in the UK is grossly excessive in terms of Calais. We are talking here about a number of people – a relatively small number in the context of what other countries are having to do – who are in terrible conditions and have to be dealt with by France and/or Britain.”
Thousands making the perilous boat voyage across the Mediterranean to reach southern Europe are “in the main” genuine refugees fleeing violence and persecution, he said.
Britain also receives far fewer asylum applications that other European countries, he said.
“Germany last year received 175,000 asylum applications. Britain received 24,000,” said Mr Sutherland.
David Cameron has faced criticism for referring to the thousands of migrants who are camped in Calais trying to get across the Channel as a “swarm”.
Mr Sutherland said: “I think it is most unfortunate to create an image of hordes of people, when in reality the highest figure I have seen for the actual numbers in the so-called ‘jungle’ around Calais – the place where these unfortunate people are living – is 10,000.”
Kevin Hurley, police and crime commissioner for Surrey, earlier this week called for the 2nd Bn Royal Gurkha Rifles based just outside Hythe, Kent, to be deployed to make sure Britain’s border is secure.
Mr Sutherland said: “The first thing we have to do collectively is to deal with their conditions. Instead of talking about sending Gurkhas or building fences, we should be thinking of the humanitarian crisis.”
Mr Sutherland urged the UK to join the common European approach to the migrant issue, warning: “Anybody who thinks that by erecting borders or fences in some way a particular state can be protected from alleged ‘floods’ – which are anything but floods – of migrants is living in cloud cuckoo land.”
Mr Sutherland delivered his thoughts on this subject with an astounding gentleness, considering the decidedly aggressive approach he adopted, when establishing the World Trade Organisation in 1993.
Perhaps his approach has softened with age, the gentleman who elevated the role of the World Trade Organisation, so that it dealt personally with presidents and prime ministers as opposed to just ministers, now chooses to walk gently over eggshells when discussing the subject of migration with those same presidents and prime ministers.
The same gentleman was also a director of the Royal Bank of Scotland, until he was kindly ask to leave the board by the British government, who took over the bank as it teetered on the verge of bankruptcy.
Peter Sutherland is also on the steering committee of the Bilderberg Group and was a vice-chairman of the European Round Table of Industrialists ( an organisation highly focused on improving considerably, business competitiveness within Europe).
He would appear to be a gentleman whose concerns centre (in the main) around the more intimate co-operation of nations across the world, on matters economic and political. He is a creature of the coporatocracy, one who also heads the International Catholic Migration Commission, which has been active in Afghanistan, Indonesia (after the Tsunami in 2004 and is now hard at work in Syria.
One wonders what has motivated him to comment on England’s xenophobia in relation to the Calais migrants. Mercy & compassion? Or cold blooded, clear eyed business sense?
In the words of Pietro Reichlin, economics professor at Rome’s Luiss university,
“When wages go down, there is more incentive to move towards the black economy (an economy fuelled by illegal migrant labour). It is almost a form of insurance, a way out” and he went on to say “Without the shadow economy, some economies would collapse. It’s the only part of the economy that keeps the economy thriving”. A black economy fuelled by migrant labour, as has become the case in parts of Italy (see Prato ) and Spain. Xenophobia aside, this doesn’t bode well for the migrants.