This being a more suitable forum than Facebook (my FB Friends are no doubt reaching saturation point with my Syrian refugee posts), I am writing to express my sadness and disgust over the refugee crisis unfolding on the shores of Europe (I say unfolding, but it has been going on for a very long time now, it is just recently that the British newspapers have been waxing hysterical about the “migrants” at Calais and so only now that we seem to be paying attention en-mass).
I saw a petition shared on Facebook to get the BBC to use the term “refugees” and not “migrants.” I read the desperately sad story about the refugees (including three children and a baby) who suffocated in the back of a lorry.
I read a story about Lebanon that says the Lebanese government is in crisis with uncollected rubbish piling up in the streets. This article mentions that Lebanon, with a native population of 4 million people, has accepted 1 million Syrian refugees since the Syrian crisis began which is the equivalent of the UK accepting 13 millions refugees. Which of course we haven’t.
We live in one of the richest and safest countries in the world, and our national press and our government are whipping up a mountain out of a molehill over a few thousand people at Calais.
And they are people. Not a swarm. Not an inconvenience. Even if most of them are young men – a category that apparently elicits precious little sympathy. As a woman and a mother, my heart fills with sadness when I read about the plight of the refugee women and children, but as someone with four younger brothers and many younger male cousins (all of whom are fine, kind, and empathetic young men) I can see the humanity in these young men. They have probably been sent on because they are the most able. I imagine that old men, women and children often get left behind to face the worst of the atrocities when the journey to safety is so arduous.
I saw two things shared on Facebook that moved me. One, a video by Save the Children putting the plight of Syria’s children into perspective. The other, a poem by Warsan Shire that completely blew me away. From what I can tell, the actual version, is titled “Conversations About Home (At the Deportation Centre)” and is even more powerful.
My uncle also shared his own poem on the subject of the refugee crisis and one of my cousins was planning a trip to Calais to take supplies to the refugees in The Jungle. Our family at least (along with many other families of course) are immune to the idiotic analysis of much of the British press and to the dangerous apathy of the British government.
I am going to write to the editors of the national newspapers and the BBC to express displeasure at some of the reporting on this crisis, and the use of the word “migrants” which is dangerously euphemistic. We need our leaders and our press to foster sensitivity and sensible solutions and not to pander to and perpetuate nationalistic ignorance and hatred.
England is not full. Our infrastructure is woefully inadequate but that doesn’t mean we can’t (and shouldn’t) improve it for our own population in any case and to help accommodate refugees from places like Syria as well.
I am also going to write to David Cameron for the record, not because I think that he will care or do anything significant, but because speaking out is the right thing to do.
Our water was brown this morning because the water went out in three postcodes in our town (luckily ours didn’t go out but my parents’ water was out for a few hours yesterday). My husband has gone to buy bottled water as I don’t want the kids to drink brown water (and I don’t want to drink it either).
My preference for clean water and my expectation that it will forever and always flow freely from my tap reveals my First-World privilege. We are all connected. We are all human. Those of us who are not refugees should show empathy towards those who are and if our government will not help we should speak out.
Please consider also writing to the Prime Minister, or to the newspapers, or writing on Facebook or Twitter or on a blog if you have one (and I know a lot of you already are because I have been sharing all of your posts!). We need voices to speak the truth and to speak for humanity over the scare-mongering hatred in the mainstream press and the foot-dragging in Westminster.
I wish I could do more. I don’t really know what to do. But I have this blog. And my voice. And that is better than sitting here in silent witness to these atrocities.
“Just because it isn’t happening here doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.”
Please consider sharing this post (or writing your own) if you agree.
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