Posted on Fri 11 Sep 2015 at 13:04 by Luke Pilot
With the extensive media coverage, the current refugee crisis will not be news to anyone. I will therefore refrain from regaling you with all the details, but instead endeavour to do 3 things: explain why the UK has a duty to all refugees and why we must do more, dispel myths perpetuated by the media and inform you of how you can help.
This is likely the worst humanitarian crisis our generation will witness - and it is happening because of our country's past. The colonialist endeavours of our ancestors, and subsequent abandonment of the countries they invaded, has left scars on many countries around the world. To make matters worse, recent generations have ensured that these countries have been at the mercy of Western militarism and the dictatorships they helped install by arming the violent regimes which still oppress and massacre thousands today.
And yet, even after inflicting this suffering on these countries and their people, we sit idle, comfortable in our privilege, and our Government had the audacity to deny these vulnerable people asylum. Thousands upon thousands of Syrian refugees flee persecution and murder; thousands of refugees are denied access to the trains in Budapest for which they have tickets and thousands more camp in dangerous and worsening conditions in Calais while they are prevented from leaving the country.
One thing that has appalled me is the response from an upsettingly large proportion of the British public. Many newspapers have painted a disgustingly inaccurate picture of the innocent refugees fleeing their countries; even our own Prime Minister referred to them as a 'swarm', reducing their existence to that of insects. These blighted individuals deserve far more respect and humanity than that accorded to them by the xenophobic journalists, politicians and British citizens who would deny them asylum.
These are innocent people fleeing the daily threat of murder, attempting to save their families while trying to come to the places that Western powers have insisted for centuries feature a better way of life they should aspire to have. Frankly, it's a disgrace that it took the harrowing image of a drowned child to change so many peoples' perceptions of this crisis. The bigotry and racism inherent in our society - bred into it through our colonialist past, a belligerent, manipulative media and general ignorance - is disgusting and must change immediately. Do not blame migrants or refugees for the problems we face. Blame it on the gross inequality of the distribution of wealth the world over.
Our Government has announced plans to allow 20,000 refugees into the UK over the next 5 years, but this is far from enough. Europe has not done enough to accommodate the 350,000 refugees currently seeking asylum. The UK is one of the wealthiest countries in the world; it is a lie that we cannot support these people. While we try to convince our MPs to be more compassionate, and stop pandering to the propaganda and political agenda of our tabloids, it is down to people power and grass-roots campaigners to do what they can to aid refugees.
This weekend, Keep Our NHS Public Leamington Spa is calling a solidarity demonstration for refugees outside Town Hall on Saturday 12th at 11am. Stand Up to Racism Coventry has also called a demonstration in Coventry in Broadgate at 12:00 noon. The Facebook group 'Leamington Spa Aid to Calais' has been set up to organise collections for anything from tents and winter clothing, to tinned food and small toys, with collections commencing again from Monday. The Rawkus Food Waste campaign is organising a collection of all food waste and abandoned belongings from PG accommodation on Saturday and Sunday - if they have enough volunteers and collect enough, they will be able to donate to the Calais Aid collection too, so please, if you can, give your time to one of these brilliant causes.
You can also sign this petition, donate money here or join a relief effort. It is important that the students of Warwick understand their role in their wider community beyond our campus and the responsibility we have to the world beyond the UK. Please do what you can, even if it is just to dismantle the misleading narrative surrounding this crisis.
The sooner we face up to and accept our bloody past, the sooner we can accept our duty and aid these refugees in their darkest hour. No borders, no barriers. End discrimination now.
All refugees welcome.