Wednesday 2 September 2015

anger is an energy....

I'm sure that you've seen the terrible pictures from Turkey and from Greece as Syrian refugees desperately try to reach Europe.  I won't republish them here, but if you want to see them, then you can go and look at them over on the Guardian.

Shocking, isn't it?

There's been some debate on my feed on Facebook about how it's a step too far to publish and share these pictures; that we know that the death of a child is awful and we don't need to have those photos of a personal tragedy for one family shoved in our face.

I disagree.

Those pictures are hard to look at, and they should be shocking.  But it also serves an important purpose: it reconnects us with the fact that these people are human beings who are desperately fleeing a conflict zone.  In spite of what you may have read in your newspaper, they are not trying to come to Britain because they are seeking an easy life with free money and housing and healthcare.  They are fleeing their homes and leaving almost everything behind them as a last resort; they are risking their lives in a desperate attempt to get themselves and their families to somewhere safe.  From the other side of Europe, it seems to be easy for us to forget that.

As Herman Melville once wrote: 'Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed."

It's easy to feel helpless, but there are things that you can do to help.

Oxfam have a page where you can donate to their response to the Syrian crisis.

If those images of that little boy on the Turkish beach have moved you, then Save the Children have a page where you can make a donation.

If you want something a lot closer to home, then my friend Abigail met a man today who is trying to raise £2,500 to fill a van with essentials to help the refugees in the camps at Calais.  You can pledge to help him towards his target here.

Meanwhile, our Prime Minister David Cameron, recently re-elected by the Great British public with a full majority in the House of Commons, is busy telling everyone that Britain is full and couldn't possibly take in any more refugees.  Germany will take in 800,000 migrants this year, and apparently we're looking at a maximum of 1,000 Syrian refugees (280 so far!).  Nigel Farage doesn't even believe that these people are genuine refugees.

Not good enough.  Nowhere near good enough.  Embarrassing, in fact.  We should be FURIOUS about this... at the very least, we should share those images to shame our spineless government into action and we should reach into our own pockets to help where we can.

Labour have made a right mess of things recently, but Yvette Cooper had it about right when she said today, "“Hundreds of thousands of refugees are fleeing from a new totalitarianism and Europe has to help – just as we did in generations past. We cannot carry on like this. It’s immoral, it’s cowardly and it’s not the British way.”

And here's Jeremy Corbyn:

"Nobody could fail to be moved by this harrowing and heartbreaking image, it should remind us of the situation facing millions of people desperately fleeing a terrible civil war. The government's response to the refugee crisis has been wholly inadequate, and we are being shamed by our European neighbours. It is our duty under UN law, but also as human beings, to offer a place of safety, and play a role internationally to share our responsibilities, and to try to end the conflict."

I'm sad and a little ashamed that this needs to be said. And people think Corbyn is a radical outsider.

1 comment:

  1. i'd not heard that Yvette Cooper quote before but that's totally spot on.

    "it's a round world the last time i checked"
    - William Melvin "Bill" Hicks