12 January 2016
Are you becoming desensitized by this humanitarian crisis?
I am not – I am becoming more and more afraid for our lack of basic humanity, our lack of basic goodness, our basic lack of the need to support and help our fellow man.
I assume you would .....
Help a neighbour in trouble?
A work mate perhaps?
But when it comes to a person who is surrounded by controversy and vilified for seeking peace and family/or job and education from another country – what then?
I am acutely aware there is a great deal of support for the Refugee crisis, however I am also very very aware there are others who do not have sympathy for a whole range of reasons.
I would like to try and break down the reasons why some maybe don’t see the things as I and others do.
Before I do, I would also like to say that I totally respect people who have done all the homework that needs doing and looked at the issue from all angles and STILL don’t agree.
There are many voices in the air on this emotive subject.
Before I got totally involved with the Refugee crisis I spent many hours looking at footage, talking to people I know and respect, drilling down into the media articles written by what appeared to me to be bile filled journalists without an ounce of compassion to try and see both sides. As someone who helps people in distress and not a politician I find some of the decisions made really hard to understand but what is way worse are the unkept Government promises and under hand behavior which comes across.
So what are we talking about?
Keeping it simple, here is a selection of things that have been said to me or people I know. I am going to try and address each one as I go. And I stress these are my personal views.
1. They are all migrants coming to the UK for the benefits and to steal our jobs.
3 things are relevant here –
i. I am disturbed that the word Refugee is rarely used. I have spoken to many people on the camps and have yet to speak with a Migrant!
Why are the media INSISTING on using migrant when Refugee is the correct term?
ii. There is of course nothing wrong with Migrants – I am one myself, and if we look at Guernsey for example – it is FILLED with Migrant workers and excellent they are too. If we took them all away and sent them home the Island’s economy would come to a slamming halt! Migrant workers add value to communities. You and I from the UK, are allowed to travel and work in most places in the world pretty freely after applying for papers etc. Why should that not be afforded to others from other countries in this instance?
iii. Most of the Refugees know nothing of the benefits and want to work, pay taxes and be integrated into our community and many already have family in the UK and want to join them. The many unaccompanied children are a prime example. Many of the Refugees are incredibly skilled and can add value to our communities.
2. They are all dangerous criminals.
I am not sure what prompts this response – my guess is fear and lack of knowledge or information. What I don’t understand is why don’t people find out more before judging?
3. They might all be terrorists ready to pounce as soon as they get into the uk.
Again I am not sure why this seems to have got onto the radar – I am pretty sure there are no terrorists living in those diabolical conditions – in the crime world usually before committing the crime the people stay somewhere nice and comfortable! How many of the Paris bombers were from the camps? None – they were all home grown – that is much more of a worry – the person wanting to enter the Uk is hardly going to risk his life trying to stow away on a lorry/train – they are much more likely to enter with a stolen passport through an airport wearing smart clothing and posing as someone successful who would not draw attention to themselves!
4. Sarah is adding and abetting crime.
I think this refers to me spending charitable money to help people who are perceived as criminal. I am a humanitarian and to me it doesn’t matter what someone has done or might do I cannot see someone in physical and or mental distress, with out offering some kind of basic help. I have been given serious funds especially FOR this cause as people feel so moved by it.
I went to give food and medical aid into a prison in the Philippines once – no one had ever done it before. When asked by the Mayor why I wanted to do I replied ‘because they are people” ‘but they are mostly drug dealers and thieves” he said – ‘they are still people’ I replied – he let me do it!
5. Sarah is a terrorist sympathizer.
I most certainly am not. I don’t condone terrorisim on any level, ever.
6. They chose to be in the camp.
Actually I don’t think they chose to be – I think they ended up in Calais more by luck than judgment – they don’t know the country – they will have walked to where they are told is the best place to go – they don’t have forward intelligence – they have fled for their lives and in most cases with little warning – just grabbed their stuff and run! I would do the same when faced by Isis and told if I stayed I would be killed.
7. They should all go home.
to what exactly? 97% of Syrian housing is down, Assad is rampaging, as are Isis, and the UK are bombing the country – I fail to see why that would be even possible for many. Other countries that are ravaged by war and or Isis have been emptied because people are not safe to lead their daily lives!
8. The camp is illegal so we shouldn’t help them.
what exactly does that mean? Its on a rubbish dump – there are people there – people who need help – should we just ignore them and hope they go away because it is illegal?
9. They are attacking the lorry drivers.
I do not condone violence in any form. That said the treatment in the camp and by the CRS (French Riot Police) I believe is making the Refugees take risks and sometimes those risks involve violence. When you have been subjected to threats to your life and your family – when you have watched people you love beheaded or raped, when you have had to run for your life and live in shocking conditions, maybe you might resort to things you would otherwise never consider doing in another life?
Desperate people do desperate things.
The CRS put teargas into the camp on an almost daily basis – mostly when there is no reason to, and seemingly sometimes for the hell of it. In my view this is a deliberate ploy to dehumanize the Refugees and goad them into violent acts out of desperation, so the authorities can say – when a riot takes place “see we told you they are violent” “we told you this would happen”
How can people be expected to have respect for people in uniform who use gratuitous violence with no remorse? I have seen it in action for my self – I have also seen the sneering CRS poking fun at the Refugees too.
10. They behave like animals.
I have met some of the nicest well educated, clever and funny people in the camps – they do NOT behave like animals.
11. They are rats.
NO! they are people like you and me.
12. They have all thrown away their passports and papers.
Some have had their papers taken by Isis and torn up in front of them – some lost them in the sea on the way over – many boats capsize and so many were filled with water by the time they reached the safety of land. Some have had them taken during their walk up Europe and some didn’t have any back at home. So deliberately thrown away – yes maybe but I sense this is a minority.
13. “I don’t want them on my Island’ said to me by someone who moved here 40 years ago from the UK.
Because you are scared of what exactly? Why should Guernsey be allowed to say no thank you we are not helping a world problem. I would have a refugee family in my house tomorrow if I was allowed to.
14. I don’t want my son to sit next to an Isis child as school.
Neither do I, or anyone else I know. This statement shows a complete lack of understanding or any attempt to become more educated about the subject and find out MORE about the terrible situation.
15. “you are trying to flood Guernsey with migrants who we know are criminals.’
Why on earth would I want to do that to the beautiful place I live and work in?No I am simply saying that Guernsey can and should stand up and be counted in helping a situation that I believe to be a world problem. Canada are taking Refugees, as are Scotland and of course the UK – why should we be ‘allowed’ to say we don’t want them? How racist and xenophobic is that? and we don’t KNOW they are criminals - they may be some, yes, just like we have in our community right here, right now.
16. the CRS are just doing their job.
If that means bullying and using unnecessary force and plain violence and they have been instructed to do that – then yes they, are BUT it is wrong and contravenes Human Rights and their boss should be made accountable for this unacceptable level of dis-respect for human beings!
17. They are in France and should stay there and claim asylum there.
Imagine, you are led to believe you will be processed and able to claim asylum because that is what you have been told by smuggler in Turkey who have you on the back foot while they take your money – you are desperate, so will do what ever they say. Yes go to Calais you will get to England no problem – you have no reason to doubt them – you don’t know they are professional smugglers, you just give them the money to get you out of a dangerous situation FAST. You reach Northern France and end up living in Dunkirk or Calais and soon realize what they were told is a lie they are living hell holes. You have no money and no where to go, desperation sets in….. a downward spiral mentally and physically – little food, hope dwindling away – you have seen horrific sights on the way up and mentally you are at an all time low…
NOW TELL ME YOU HAVE NO HEART while you sit in your warm house with your tea bubbling away in the oven and a drink on the side. Your heated blanket is warming the bed nicely so you wont be cold when you go to bed having watched some programmes on the TV in the evening.
NOW tell me they should be left to rot in these cold, wet, unsanitary dangerous hell holes, with NO support from our Government, led by the man who condones more bombs into Syria leading even more to make the dangerous trip across the sea.
Now tell me that those unaccompanied children should be allowed to be in the hell hole… still.
Now tell me that the authorities should bulldoze one third of the camp destroying meagre shelters and people few possessions!
What if that was YOU and your family?
Now tell me that is compassionate kind and morally the right thing to do – because I am sorry but I want no part of that plan ........... it is plain WRONG!
Sarah Griffith MBE
Founder of Bridge2