In a slight departure from feminism, dogs and seabirds, I’m going to rant about how shoddily we’re treating refugees. I might do it again sometime.
There is a war going on. In fact, there are several. They are happening in countries that we, in the West kidded ourselves we belonged. We were lied to by our politicians then, and we’re being lied to now. We caused the vast majority of the problems going on in the Middle East, starting from 1948.
We are being told lies about who is coming, where they’re coming from and their purposes for coming. We are being lied to about what they want, and why they want to live in Britain.
I have some things to say, I’d like to think they will make people think. It won’t work, because I am nothing in comparison to News International or the hateful Daily Mail, but when it comes down to it, I want to be able to point at something and say “Look! I said this! I tried to get the truth out there. I tried to make people think”
1 in every 122 people in the world is presently a refugee, a displaced person or seeking asylum.
Just let that figure sink in for a minute.
Many refugees are coming from Libya, however, they have travelled from further afield and had settled in the refugee camps in Libya before Libya descended into chaos. They will have come from Eritrea, Nigeria, Somalia, Gambia, Senegal… the list goes on. They have nowhere else to go and most of them speak a European language, so Europe must seem like a good choice, if you can speak the language, you have fewer problems fitting in, getting a job, don’t you? Don’t you?
Many displaced persons are in enormous camps in Jordan. The numbers in Calais are minuscule in comparison.
In past periods of history, there have been huge upheavals, people have fled war zones, famine, drought, disease, Pogroms and pillaging and Britain has always soaked up it’s fair share of those people. The Huguenots, Ugandan Asians, Vietnamese boat people and so on, and so on. What has changed? What has happened to the British psyche, that means that, instead of welcoming these people, we are turning our faces away from their pain? There is more than enough room here, the only people who say there isn’t live in the South East, and even there there are abandoned homes and brown field sites. Refugees from the Suez crisis were housed in Richmond Park among other places.
Every day we see pictures of men, women and children in tiny boats trying to get to Europe, and we have the usual suspects in the press telling us that they shouldn’t be here, that taking them in just encourages human traffickers and other criminal elements, but let’s have a look at that too. Imagine for a second, that you’re living your life and going to work, the kids are going to school, seeing friends etc etc. Then one day, all that changes. The schools close, people are carrying weaponry, you can’t go to your job, there’s no money, and the shops, even if they have anything on the shelves, will only accept cash. Your neighbour is killed. The electricity is cut off, as is the water supply. The hospital shuts, and anyway, there are no drugs there. What would you do? Stick around to see if things got better? Or grab every penny you could get your hands on and run, dealing with traffickers, criminals and all sorts to get your children to safety?
Have we learned nothing from history at all? The following paragraph from The Independent today chilled me to the bone:
“In the Czech Republic, some 200 refugees with valid train tickets were hauled off a train bound for Germany and given registration numbers, in permanent marker, written on their arms.”
In the mid 20th century, people were hauled off trains as well. They were marked on their arms. They were non-people. Britain hadn’t done enough to take in those people when they were begging for escape, are we going to leave people to their fate again? In our failure to act last time, 6 million men, women and children were murdered, how many will it be this time?
Too dramatic? They probably said the same right up until 1945 when the full horror of the Holocaust became apparent.