So according to the home secretary, Sajid Javid, 94 refugees trying to cross the Channel is a “major incident” (Rise in migrants trying to cross Channel declared a ‘major incident’, 29 December). Tell that to the people of Lampedusa, who have received 400,000 refugees (both alive and dead) on their shores in the past two decades – and whose municipal officials have resisted calling them “migrants” and named them “refugees” (which they are until proved otherwise).
The home secretary would do well to consider the inflammatory nature of his language, playing as it does right into the anti-immigrant narrative with its aspersions of illegality. The Guardian might also consider the laxity of its language – 17 uses of the word “migrants” in one article (Crisis at sea: Who are the people taking this risky route and why?, 29 December) when referring to the refugees arriving in Kent whose status has yet to be determined.
• As is acknowledged by Yvette Cooper and Diane Abbott in your report, the only way to prevent such “incidents” from happening is to improve communications with the French authorities. While the build-up of refugees in areas such as Calais may only affect the French, the devastating effects of ill-advised refugees attempting to cross the Channel on their own is felt just as strongly on British shores.