Only desperation could lead to journeys like these
If the picture of a dead three year old from Syria being plucked from the sea does not stir the hearts and emotions of Cameron, Farage and their ilk I don’t know what will.
This three year old wasn’t part of a swarm but part of a desperate mass of humanity seeking to leave behind the wars and massacres of Syria and the wider Middle East area. No mother or father would commit themselves and their families to a possible death but a definite uncertainty on a whim. Would you risk your children’s lives unless you absolutely had to? No of course not. Neither does any parent. They are fleeing one of the most disgusting forces that we have seen since the holocaust and Nazi Germany.
Why don’t we just ignore these children and their parents. It’s not our problem – let them die or let them live in camps outside their own countries but inside the countries that surround their countries which are already meeting the needs of millions of refugees. That’s the view of Cameron and Farage but it’s not my view and I hope it’s not hours.
Why should we help? For three reasons:
Firstly because we are human beings too. We must feel for these people when their plight is brought to our attention in our front rooms by the miracle of television. In other circumstances it could be us or our kids who could be fleeing for our lives. Would we hope that we would be helped in one of the richest countries in the world? UNICEF are saying today that 13,000,000 children are not getting an education because of the conflicts. Isn’t our hope and desire that our children will be properly educated and live a better life than we do? Why wouldn’t it be the same for others.
Secondly because we helped cause the problem. We say that we have had no big war since the Second World War although people who say that tend to forget the ignominies of Suez and Malaya. But it’s not true. The reason that we have had no close wars is because we have largely fought them at second hand using drones or proxies
Much of the instability of the Middle East at present was originally caused by our illegal second invasion of Iraq. With no legitimate goal, information or game plan we blindly followed the USA into combat. Of course according to the then President Bush that war was won within two months. What we didn’t know how to do was win the peace! Without a doubt theformer dictator presidents of Iraq and Libya were loathsome individuals. It also without a doubt there is more death, destruction and uncertainty with them gone than with them present.
Lastly, and by far the least important reason is because helping people and seeking the moral high ground is actually the best position for us to be in. As I have often said before these people are good people. They are people who are capable and compassionate; concerned and committed. Our population is still ageing and we need using people to reinvigorate and eventually run our economies and services.
My view is simple. The U.K. must take its fair share of refugees. It should provide decent accommodation and proper facilities in the way we have done before. In Liverpool we can be proud of our role in a former conflict. In early June 2000 Liverpool had no people of Kosovan descent in our city. Within just 5 days our City took in almost 1000 men, women and children fleeing from civil war. We looked after them using national government money. 9 months later almost all of them had gone home. As the conditions in their homelands improved and became safe they went home. That would be true of most refugees and asylum seekers.
I don’t know how many a fair share is but others have worked out that this might be about 50,000. This in a population of 60,000,000+. Handled properly this is a tiny amount of people whose aim is not to seek our benefits or live on charity but to earn a living to keep them and their family. Of course we have our own unemployed; of course we have have our own budget stresses but this is now a matter of choice. This government is artificially reducing taxes on the wealthy and reducing services well beyond what is needed to balance the books and get spending under control.
I really believe that is the view of most of my fellow countrymen and women. I have two abiding memories of the Kosovan refugees in Liverpool.
Firstly an army of members of the the Women’s Institure in rubber gloves and with buckets and cleansers in hand descending on the student accommodation we had allocated for the refugees.
The second was going on Radio Merseyside to appeal for wool and needles for the ladies to knit with. Two hours later I had to go back because we couldn’t cope with the donations of wool etc that were pouring in. Liverpool is a city with tremendous heart in a country with tremendous compassion. We should not let the agenda be set by moral pygmies of the likes of Cameron and Farage. We must all demand that our country plays its fair share in dealing with this humanitarian crisis.
Let’s not have anothe dead three year old on our conscience.