The Solution To The Refugee Crisis Is Right Under Our Noses

B011While German leader Angela Merkel has stepped up to provide leadership in the face of the refugee crisis, David Cameron and the UK government are flailing. This response is unforgivable, considering the role British foreign policy has played in the catastrophe. Worse, the solution is right under our nose.

Between 1938 and 1940, the UK took in more than 10,000 predominantly Jewish children to rescue them from a horrifying fate at the hands of the Nazis and their allies. This project was called the Kindertransport. This was not about providing a quota of visas after families had made death-defying trips on overcrowded boats to arrive (dead or alive) on our shores. Britain and her allies ran trains and planes to pick up these refugees and bring them here safely.

On top of this, the UK welcomed more than 70,000 additional Jewish refugees before the beginning of World War II. Britain opened its hotesl, hostels and stately homes to accommodate a desperate people.

This is how the Daily Mail responded at the time.

B004This should stand as a lesson from history – they were wrong then, and they are wrong now.

If 1930’s Britain could ignore its racist press and get on the right side of history, modern Britain should be capable of even better.

There are currently 4 million registered Syrian refugees, and 4.1 million homeless people across Europe. That’s just over 8 million people made destitute by physical or economic violence.

At the same time, 11 million homes are standing empty.

This is not an issue of capacity. We could house every Syrian refugee, and every homeless European overnight, without building a single additional home. Also, by tackling both problems, we would respond not only to the refugee crisis but ‘fix our own problems’ at the same time.

What this comes down to is intent. Do we intend to step over ragged shadows of humanity in our streets, and let dead children wash up on beaches – or do we intend to honour our common humanity. Are we the Good Samaritan, or the apathetic bystander.

Until we have opened the door of every hotel, hostel, stately home and available bedroom in this country, no one grounds to argue we can’t help our fellow human beings, only that they don’t want to.

Furthermore, this is a crisis we knew was coming. A crisis that will become the norm as we reap the whirlwind of military and economic violence across the world, combined with the impacts of climate change.

As Ellie Mae O’Hagan wrote in the Guardian recently:

There are lots of estimates as to what we can expect to see in the near future, but the best known (and controversial) figure comes from Professor Norman Myers, who argues that climate change could cause 200 million people to be displaced by 2050.

We may very well be a small island, but so is Iceland. How did the Icelandic people respond to their government’s paltry offer to accept just 50 refugees? 11,000 signed up to offer asylum in their own homes to help.

How did Germany respond to the crisis?

 

 

Thanks to an intransigent UK government and a largely hostile press, the British response to the crisis has been left to small start-up campaigns.

  • British group of 7 concerned citizens have raised £50,000 ($76,500) in just a few weeks to help put together aid packages for refugees in Kent.
  • Another British group set up a Kickstarter for the same purpose which has raised £41,000 ($63,000).

 

While these small numbers of people help, a recent YouGov poll a staggering 67% of the British public back sending the troops to Calais to stop migrants entering the U.K.

Bottom line – the number of refugees accepted by the UK could fit in a single tube train. It’s a shameful effort.

The petition to pressure the UK government to accept more refugees is now going viral, with over 135,000 signatures and counting at time of writing. This should secure a parliamentary debate on the matter, but we can’t wait for parliament to get involved.

When a human crisis erupted in Europe in 1938, we were on the right side of history. Well, it’s 2015 and human crisis has arrived once more. We have the capacity to get on the right side of history again. It’s time to show the will.

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16 thoughts on “The Solution To The Refugee Crisis Is Right Under Our Noses

  1. Completely off subject but what do you make of these FEMA camps that have been set up all over the USA and the fact that the US govt have been recruiting heavily recently for personnel to run them (the jobs are described as ‘prisoner management’). There are also thought to be 11 million coffins being stored on farms across the US. There is a lot of footage about it on youtube, mostly posted by intrigued and worried citizens – but it all adds up to a rather frightening prospect…

  2. most people with a heart will feel sorrow at that little child we have to be realistic about taking these people in would not have saved that little boy, how many immigrant’s can we take before our society collapses I am not looking to scare monger but our NHS, police service, councils are struggling also we have one of the smallest land masses in Europe nearly a 1/3 of France, Germany. I do not support or vote tory but the solution is not to keep taking these people in if we do then they will keep taking to these people traffickers and dyeing in these flimsy boats fixing the problem is the only answer

  3. Pingback: The Solution To The Refugee Crisis Is Right Under Our Noses | Scriptonite Daily | sdbast

  4. I agree that theoretically they could be accommodated, but in the current financial climate I cannot see them being maintained without a huge outcry. Whether given benefits or allowed to work there would be huge long term expense supporting another population – education, healthcare, elder care etc. Plus dispersing refugees into areas that are low in people of colour – I am sure the Jews experienced some ‘unpleasantness’, but Syrian’s would clearly face a lot more – wealthy semi rural areas are unwelcoming enough to indigenous poor, let alone brown refugees.

  5. What a unique moment in time for the National Trust to do something genuinely beautiful (and radical). Not that I’m holding my breath…

  6. Are Icelandic and Germanic folk packed tight as sardines, crammed into tiny sections of the country while most of its rolling green acres remain empty as they’re owned by a malevolent greedy juvenile handful of Establishment figures? I don’t think our situations compare… we could ask the Establishment to surrender its land for housing, that would be an answer, cries of Green Belt could be met with plans to spread housing out decently allowing the land to breathe between dwellings… the options are there, the rich have to agree to them is all…

  7. Great Article :)
    (although when I clicked the link about 11m homes empty, that was Europe-wide, whereas the article suggested UK-wide)

        • In the UK back in late 2011 “The Great British Property Scandal” was created by
          George Clarke. It was a series of programmes concerned with recongnising that around 1 million houses were standing empty. to be honest I don’t think anything has changed – http://www.channel4.com/programmes/the-great-british-property-scandal/articles/all/about-the-campaign

          Also with the current changes in welfare making half of the country inacessible to folks on benefits… I think it can be said we’ve a bunch of social cleansing authoritarians running the country were the idea that refugees are subhuman is a very real one.

          “Is what is taking place in DWP policy helping to create social cleansing of the South of the UK?” is a point made at the very end of this following blog page which specifically is looking at IDS and his policies (the info all has links to sources) – http://the-klaxon.blogspot.co.uk/

          • sorry sent before finished typing/editiing
            meant to say that the idea of refugee peoples as being sub-human plus the dissonance arising from the realising that those in power’s policies in the Middle East are contributing to the horror of what is taking place. That added to the strong eurosceptic feelings engendered amounts to one huge humanitarian mess that our government doesn’t want to touch with a barge pole.

            I hate the powers that be in the UK at the moment and all that they stand for which is utterly repugnant

            • Cameron and his Fascist cronies want bringing to book for the
              murder of 1000’s of people in this country because of the way
              people have been sanctioned on benefits in this country.
              if he doesn’t give a fuck about people in this country,except his
              toffy nosed rich pals,do you think he gives a fuck about the
              refugees,does he fuck.

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