Apart from a rumble of disgust at the British Government’s response to the refugee crisis, I have not heard much discussion about the U.K’s sorting criteria for ‘acceptable’ refugees. Britain is not open to refugees on the move, irrespective of the reasons why. What we hear, is that any refugees that Britain accepts will have to be in the official camps They will include the most vulnerable, (whatever that means) and likely, orphan children. Alarmist voices quickly channeled all the resources arguments against giving refuge to unaccompanied children. The same arguments have been raised in respect of the trickle of ‘acceptable’ refugees over five years that Britain may give refuge too, 4000 per year. In this instance the Westminster Government response was to offer time-limited assistance in areas where any refugees may be settled.
Funding the needs of extra people is a consideration, it has to be. While that discussion is being resolved both domestically and internationally, it is worth remembering history shows that previous waves of refugees who arrived in Britain have and still do substantially contribute to the wealth of this country.
Britain has not been mean with aid on the ground, far from it. A major slice of basic aid in forming the camps, in particular, in Lebanon, has been given through the generosity of the British people. But, not all refugees are in camps, there are a large number eking out an existence in sub-standard conditions in countries like Jordan. That said, their need to be fed is no different from the refugees in the other camps. Like many in camps, (including camps in Turkey) they are now being forced to move on because the United Nations (U.N) which has been supporting these camps with food aid, has run out of money for food aid for the refugees. The U.N has been reliant on international financial donations to support vast numbers of people with food. Starkly put, the refugees, whether in camps or shacks, can no longer be fed. Their choices for survival – the basic human instinct – are limited to moving on, to attempt to survive. Life becomes a lottery. In trying to survive many die.
Communities around the U.K have spontaneously been taking practical steps; there have been collections of warm clothing for people stuck at Calais and other ports, who have arrived at these places wearing their sandals and lightweight clothing, none of which is suitable for surviving Northern European Winters. In Vienna, clothing donated from many sources is given to the refugees as they arrive in the city. I expect the same scenario will have been enacted throughout other refugee arrival points, where refugees are being treated with dignity. Sad to say, treating the refugees with dignity is not universal.
I was appalled to hear the rhetoric of Fascism by the Hungarian Government and from other Eastern European States. The Balkan Wars and the Hungarian uprising against Russian suppression are all still within living memory. They created refugees who were desperate for help. Some of my faith in humanity was restored when I saw and heard the reports of the Hungarian people individually helping refugees, irrespective of their Government’s distasteful stance.
The UK has no need to swell its population with young and intelligent people from elsewhere to support an ageing population as much as some of our neighbour countries do, (like France and Germany, for example). So, to minimise our responsibility to what the world has now accepted is a true refugee crisis, (as opposed to economic migrants) from Africa and the Middle East, this is what the British Government says it is going to do over five years. Britain will consider taking a total of 20,000 ‘acceptable’ Refugees, (4000 per year) who are in official refugee camps. Perhaps, from those selected there will be orphan children. You are definitely not going to be offered refuge in the U.K if you are a refugee with the many thousands on the move, who are risking life and limb to survive.