Refugee Crisis, Dead Babies And All You Do Is Make Excuses!
Refugee Crisis, Dead Babies And All You Do Is Make Excuses!
It has long frustrated that me that “our” response to the current and ongoing refugee crisis has been not only lacking but wholly unsympathetic.
I have been hesitant to cast assumptions about our collective conscience preferring to conclude that factors such as the daily reports, many pictures, twitter feeds and Facebook posts along with the years of reports of deaths, bombings, beheadings etc from this same and other regions has hardened us to the reality of what is actually going on a few thousand miles away from us. There has to be some truth in this but it is not satisfactory and does not explain the whole picture.
Two things most recently have led me to this regrettable conclusion:
1. The recent hysteria over the death of a lion named Cecil is the first. It was unpleasant, horrible and sad to say the least but at a time when children are being murdered or dying trying to escape an otherwise brutal end the noise made about a lion, the feelings of anger expressed and demonstrated far exceeded anything we have noticed when it comes to the innocent civilians at the mercy of ISIS for example.
It is easier for the most ignorant of us to know and understand that a lion has been killed for fun. It is easy to get behind that cause, you do not read much, you do not need to understand much, you just see a picture, read someone else 2 line Facebook post and re-post or re-tweet. There! You have done your bit, you have proved to the world that you are one of the ones who cares! You can hold your head up high as you walk down the street knowing you are as righteous as the next person.
2. Second is the reaction to yesterday’s horrific photographs of a dead 3 year old boy on the beach of a Turkish holiday resort. I like to convince myself (based loosely on my religious understanding) that it is not for us to understand everything that happens but to accept that God’s plan can only be for the good of the world (difficult I know at times like this) and so maybe this child’s untimely end will be the wake-up call that the rest of the world so desperately needs to justify action to end this suffering now.
I hold out the hope that I am right but the evidence thus far is that I may not be. Sure, people have woken up, people are taking to twitter and Facebook like never before but still the excuses for not acting are being trotted out.
Let’s start with the most stupid and basic of arguments and deal with them in turn:
a. We as a nation are somehow to blame because we created the instability in the Middle East through our deceitful foreign policy and imperial past. I understand the point that what we did in the past may have contributed to the difficulties in the middle East, Africa, India etc. However the reaction to those difficulties by extremists and dictatorial governments is no one’s responsibility but the people carrying out such acts. Two wrongs do not make a right, suffering in the past, poverty, disagreements over land, religion or frustration at Western foreign policy does not justify the brutal murder, rape, enslaving and torture of anyone else. And in any event, even if you do not agree with my assessment, how does any of that justify the failure to act to help these poor desperate people now? It does not!
b. Other Countries, particularly those in the Middle East such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia with all their wealth should be helping. Of course they should but again I ask, how does their failure to act justify ours? It does not. In fact, their failure makes it even more imperative that we and others do!
c. David Cameron is so uninspiring that it is rather surprising that this week it was he who brought me closest to smashing my television when he said that “letting them in” is not the answer, rather he stressed the solution lies in addressing the problems in their home lands thus they will not want to leave. Well that’s a great plan isn’t it! Thus far I am not sure what “we” are doing to improve the situation in Syria and Iraq that might make these people not want to leave any longer (see below for more on this very point) but whatever it may be, many thousands will continue to die both at the hands of the brutal regimes and militia operating out there and in trying to escape while his plan is put into action. These people simply do not have the luxury of time. They need help right now, they need saving right now. Every person that dies whilst we pontificate is another needless death that we could have helped prevent.
d. Finally, the argument that we simply cannot afford to take in these people is a fallacy the right wing, ignorant and those in Government will happily have you believe. What nonsense is this really? We are one of the wealthiest, liberal and free countries in the world. Not only does that actually lay greater responsibility at our feet, it also means that we can actually afford to help these people. Of course there will be a cost to us when more people come to live here, even if only for a short time. But really what will that cost be? I hear the arguments about the NHS being stretched and the schools being full and the other associated costs to the British tax payer of an increasing population. Btu when we have so much already and they have so little what will the personal sacrifice to each of us actually be. Maybe our tax bill will rise ever so slightly, we probably wouldn’t even notice it. Worst case scenario, we might have to give up some of essentials like a meal out a month, a trip to the cinema, that new hand bag or pair of shoes. That is what we are really talking about here. Are you people who protest about the costs to us of taking in these refugees really content to refuse to make such small sacrifices as these to allow more scenes like those we saw in today’s papers.
Let us also consider the actual cost of keeping these people out, it has been estimated that the cost is circa £700,000 per day in security alone. Add to that the cost to British business as a result of delays on the channel crossing and motorways and it rises into the Billions. That is enough money to cover the cost of taking all these people and more and for the rest of their likely lives.
For me, I will declare now that I will move to live in skip or a cardboard box if it means another child will not be murdered in front of his mother while his 12 year old sister is raped in front of her father who is then killed to cut off the line completely whilst his wife is then taken as a sex slave and sold to some ISIS commander who will do with her as he pleases until he is fed up with her and puts her out of her misery.
We can stop this right now:
We build dignified camps at the various sites where these people are arriving. We take our fair share of them too. We process these people, document them and then provide them with a warm safe roof over their heads and food and water etc while their cases for asylum are considered. We give them aces to interpreters, we allow them proper legal advice and then if they pass the assessments and are allowed to remain we afford them the best start in our country that we can.
We play our part in convincing the rest of Europe and Countries further afield to do their bit too. We shame any nation who refuses to help.
We send troops to these war torn Countries. Our troops, NATO, UN states, the U.S.A and their troops are more than enough in number to afford protection to the various towns and villages where there are people at risk of attack from the likes of ISIS etc. We defeat the militia, we install short term governments pending full democratic voting processes if the government already in place is not considered fit. We stay until ISIS etc. are defeated and stability reigns in the state.
The latter may seem like a pipedream but if our governments act with honesty and integrity and work with other Countries without agenda then it can be achieved.
The priority though is stopping the deaths right now and that should therefore include sending as many ships as possible to intercept those at risk of drowning trying to get over here and bringing them to safety.
Howards & Henry’s Solicitors have offices in Manchester & Macclesfield and specialise in Criminal Defence, Road Traffic / Motoring Offenses & Personal Injury Law.
Details about the author:
Oliver Gardner is a criminal Solicitor and Director at Howards & Henry’s Solicitors with offices in Manchester and South Cheshire. Oliver is a committee member of the Criminal Law Solicitors Association and is trained in psychotherapy to level 3.