Are we being humanitarian?
I’m writing this post with two thoughts in mind. Firstly, aware that the subject is both emotionally and politically charged; and secondly, so shocked and saddened in the series of events that have unfolded in the last couple of week and months. What I’m referring to is the humanitarian crisis that’s on our doorstep. It is possible because I’m a father, but I would have hoped it was because I am a human that the images of that boy, whose life was lost touched many many people.
Conscious that this evokes many feelings we should remember these people are fleeing a terrifying situation. That, coupled with the attempts to cross into Europe, and cross the Channel with the loss of life makes one think long and hard. They’ve lost their nation, their homes, their possessions, and now they’re loosing their lives in striving for safety and starting their lives again.
When people lose everything, they will do anything to survive and regardless of what we think of the numbers game, these people are desperate.
Sadly, it will get worse before it gets better while the nations procrastinate about what to do about it. Too little is being done and what is being done is too late for those who have perished. Having come through northern France in the summer, the fortress being erected around the entrance to the Channel Tunnel and ferry areas is scary and is a symbol of not being welcomes. We watched while people walked along the round near Bolougne, some 30 KM south of Calais. These are desperate people and they need help.
The European response has been in many ways too little too late. Shocking scenes are border points being flashed up on our screens, where families are being separated while they desperately attempt to board trains, buses or even walk to many European countries. The UK response has been ‘interesting’. After a UK Parliament petition to Accept more asylum seekers, and increase support for refugee migrants in the UK forced this into a debate and this resulted in the Prime Minister offering 20,000 places for refugees over the life of this parliament. That means, 4,000 a year.
As one of the richest states in Europe with a GNI per capita of $42, 690, higher than that of France and while lower that of Germany by $4,950, we offer 4,000 while they’ve taken over 80,000 and accepting more. Their record of asylum is also impressive to the UK, they took 1% of population of asylum seekers last year. Sweden received and accepted around 8,000 applications per million of population and took a high percentage of them, compared to less than 500 applications per million and we accepted less than a third in the UK. While there has been work done to welcome and rehouse, to date, confirmed in a letter from my MP only 200 of the ‘most needy’ have been accepted.
Germany is taking more Syrian refugees that all of Europe combined and they with France and Sweden are taking the most of any country when looking at how all countries are responding. Our offer of 4,000 per year, assuming you will be a 5 year government, is paltry and almost ridiculous for us to say we’re doing our bit.
What else is being done:
With the aid agencies people are starting to do things to make a difference, for example, it has been reported in the press that:
- In Germany a website similar to AirBNB to help people offer rooms for refugees
- In Calais there is a group from SE England offers support and care with support from nurses and others
- People are taking action in different ways to #refugeeswelcome
What can we do?
We can financially support those agencies like Unicef and many others, we would not have heard of:
- How to help refugees – via PRI.org
- How you can help – via the @Guardian
- and via the Independent with some unique approaches
Finally, one can support @AmnestyInternational and also lobby MPs, to support families and individuals needing assistance.
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