‘We must do more to help refugees’ says MP

Ms Cooper meets one of the refugees arriving on the island.
Ms Cooper meets one of the refugees arriving on the island.

Normanton,Pontefract and Castleford MP Yvette Cooper spent two days on an island struggling to cope with up to 7,000 refugees arriving every day.

Ms Cooper visited the Greek island of Lesbos last month as part of her role as chairwoman of Labour’s refugee taskforce group.

Yvette Cooper on the island of Lesbos where up to 7,000 refugees arrive every day.

Yvette Cooper on the island of Lesbos where up to 7,000 refugees arrive every day.

She said she saw thousands of families arriving on the island in dinghies.

Ms Cooper said: “Lesbos is a stunning place where people should be going on their holidays but instead it is now at the centre of the biggest humanitarian crisis since the Second World War.

“From the northern coast of the island you can see the Turkish coast and while I was there flimsy dinghies kept arriving with up to 50 people on and the children didn’t even have proper lifejackets on.

“They were wearing armbands just like what you see at the swimming pool. It was just awful.”

Ms Cooper said European countries needed to do more to help the families of refugees fleeing conflict in Syria and Iraq.

She said: “The people I met were just families like any others.

“We would want people to help us if something like what they’re going through happened to us or our countries.

“I just think all European countries need to do their bit. Everyone needs to come together on this because no country can tackle this alone.

“I think we need proper humanitarian support and aid for people and we need rapid assessment to be done on these people because there is a difference between immigration and asylum.

“If every country in Europe just helped a handful of families then that would go a long way towards sorting the problem.”

During the trip, Ms Coopper also met officials from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and staff from charity IsraAid.