Leanne Wood responds to Foreign Office inaction over stranded ship

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Leanne Wood has rebuked the Foreign Secretary for refusing to act to assist a ship with 32 refugees and a number of crew stuck in the Mediterranean.

Robin Jenkins, a Welshman, is one of the volunteer crew on board the ship and has been in contact with Ms Wood.

Ms Wood contacted Jeremy Hunt, the Foreign Secretary and Sajid Javid the Home Secretary on Sunday (30 December) to urge action. Mr Hunt responded by saying that the UK Government was ‘monitoring the situation’, but gave no indication that they had or were planning to act to assist.

Mr Jenkins is set to receive an award from the Prime Minister for his work in relation to international lifeboat rescue.

In her response to the Foreign Secretary, Ms Wood highlights the hypocrisy of the UK Government, which is willing to give out awards for Mr Jenkins’s efforts, but unwilling to support him when he needs it most.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the UN Refugee Agency, has raised concerns about the boat.

In her response to the Foreign Secretary, Leanne Wood AM, said:

“First and foremost, the priority of your approach to “tackling irregular migration”, as you put it, should be the conservation of life and the safety of those on board ships such as Sea-Watch 3. You rightly note that many of those rescued are in need of urgent medical help. Your Government is in a position to offer that assistance. 

“Mr Robin Jenkins is set to receive an award from the UK Prime Minister for his efforts in relation to international boat rescue. These awards, however, are cheap if the very same Government that hands them out, is not willing to back them up with actions. 

“A passive approach in which you feel that you must be “approached” before offering assistance and support is extremely troubling. The lives of UK citizens and desperate people, including children, are in the balance. You have the opportunity to take a hands-on approach and save the lives of these people. 

“I would ask you to explore all avenues within the frameworks of the European Union institutions. I would also welcome clarification as to the capacity of UK military operations in the Mediterranean to offer assistance to Sea-Watch 3. Equally, could you confirm whether the UK Government could offer safe harbour in the Mediterranean via Gibraltar?

“Once again, I urge you to take action before a dangerous situation becomes a tragic one.”

Read Leanne Wood’s original letter to the Foreign Secretary and Home Secretary here

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