The UK and the Refugee Crisis

Until now, I've sat silently, I've listened to the radio, I've watched the news on the television. I've signed petitions and spoken about it to family and friends, but I know in the bottom of my heart I have done nothing, or at least very little to help the thousands of human beings seeking refuge across Europe. I've heard arguments from both sides, some comments making me feel sick from the lack of empathy towards these poor people. And although it's too late for thousands, I just want to write my own two pennies worth, because from scrolling down my own Facebook timeline and interacting with my own friends and family, I've noticed people don't seem to be as clued in as they like to think. As with everything in life, people choose what they want to hear, only this time, it's effecting an international issue.

'Cockroaches', 'Swarms', these are just some of the words I've heard and read, used to describe the people fleeing from war to the safety of Europe. But on Wednesday night, these 'cockroaches' were embodied, they were embodied by a little boy, whose body was washed up on the shore in Bodrum. And suddenly people are realising, oh shit, these are human beings. These are mothers, daughters, sons, husbands, aunties and uncles, these people are living and breathing and are like us in every single way. Except they were born into a different country, into states where you don't have the freedom of speech and you can't walk around safe at night, countries where you pick a side or you die. They are children, and they are teenagers, they are the old and they are the middle aged and they are all in desperate need of help. 

The most common argument when it comes to the UK's behaviour in its (lack of) assistance during the last few months, has been that we are a tiny island. We aren't even half the size of Germany and France, how could we possibly take as many? To be honest, we obviously can't take as many and not because of anything other than sheer size, if you were to play sardines in England and in Germany, more people would fit inside Germany and thus they have the capacity to take more. However, this argument is completely invalidated, when I tell you the measurements of our intake based on our population. Our 0.003% commitment, is the second lowest, after Hungary who have 0% commitment. And meanwhile, whilst we have a 2,200 people target, the number of Syrian refugees who have actually qualified so far could comfortable fit in a single tube train. Not quite Great Britain after all. 

Another dismal argument I have heard against aiding refugees, is where was our help when we were in World War I and II? I don't even want to waste my time typing these words, because if you are stupid enough to think this is a valid argument, you are probably never going to be swayed no matter what I say. But the clue is in the name of World Wars, our country went into an interstate war. It was a Governmental decision to go to war, and the men and boys killed in World War I was, undoubtedly horrendous, but the UK was actually relatively unharmed. Even the Zeppelin Raids are considered to have had minimal direct impact, considering the scale of the war. In World War II, yet again it was an interstate war, the main cities had the bonus of the sirens to warn air attacks and ensure people went into their bomb shelters. Children were sent to the countryside, because that was enough,  and they were kept relatively safe. Due to the huge differences, the war in Syria is almost incomparable  to the World Wars. The loss toll may be less and the space in which it's taking place is smaller, not across many countries. But this is a war in which the people are fighting against each other. There is no siren to warn you of air attacks, suicide bombers happen every day and millions, literally millions, have been forced from their homes, because if they don't leave, they will die. The conflict started because of pro-democracy protests, during which security just opened fire on the protestors. There is murder, torture and rape from both sides, there is no overriding good anymore. And this is why these people, the human beings who are fleeing to our countries, are so desperate. The reasons they will risk getting crushed by trains or take their children in the dead of night to cross the sea in dinghies, knowing full well they could not make it. Maybe the reason so many people are anti-refugees, is because they have no real comprehension of what it's like to be born and raised into a life like this, their situations are so desperate it's almost unimaginable.

It is so easy, when shown photos like the one from above, to dehumanise these people. Most of us can't relate to the horrors they've seen, the people they've lost, what they're running from. And I hope we never will. Photos such as the one above, make a lot of people scared. We don't want our cushty homeland to be overrun with refugees climbing fences and breaking into our £500 annual pass spa resorts. But think about where they've come from, think about what they've been through. These are human beings, and I'm sure I'm not the first, or the last to write this, but they are not coming over here to hurt us. They don't want to 'steal' our jobs or go on benefits. The benefit system doesn't even work like that, they aren't bragging about being given £5 a day to live on. They're seeking solace. They're looking for somewhere to be safe, somewhere they can one day make a living and stop living in fear. We should be thankful for living in such a country, but in no way is it our prerogative to stop others from receiving help, no matter where they come from.

To put more perspective on things, David Cameron is now going back to other EU leaders with his tail between his legs, but the damage of his initial refusal to take more refugees has been done. We are getting closer and closer to leaving the EU, dangerous territory to say the least. Without the EU holding us together, why would the French and the Dutch use their valuable time and resources stopping refugees and migrants from coming over to our island? Anyone would be able to come here without their safeguarding us. 

It's quite simple, other humans need help. People are dying, children are being washed up on shore, men are climbing barbed wire fences and getting run over by trains as they try to board them. The world is in a desperate situation. And we are not able to pie it off to a different country. Everyone needs to work together until the initial root of the problem is solved. It's very easy to sit in my warm bed, eating a piece of toast and sipping some tea, to talk about how we need to help. I hope nobody reading this ever experiences the desperation these refugees do, but it is not an excuse to ignore the situation.

Ciao for Now

DONATE TO MIGRANT OFF SHORE AGE STATION (the charity running independent rescue boats to save migrants at risk of drowning)


  1. This is an absolutely stunning post and I agree with every word you said. So beautifully written with words that hold so much meaning. I couldn't have said it better myself. Its well overdue time that we all stopped sitting on our sofa's pitying the people of Syria, and actually start helping them in whichever way we can. ♥

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  2. Though I'm not in Europe, I did really like reading this post. It honestly puts so much perspective into things when people think of these people in their situations as their own family members ya know?
    Great post. xx