Re: The Flaw In The British Government’s Approach To The European Refugee Crisis: Migrants Are Not Ants & Refugees Are Not Bees
2 Marsham Street
Let me begin by thanking you for taking time to respond to my earlier letter , which I sent to the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary. Democracy is enriched when the ruling government takes time to respond to the queries of the ruled no matter how “mundane” the query may seem
In your reply you highlight the different measures the British government has taken to address the refugee crisis such as providing humanitarian aid, supporting the EU’s Regional Development and Protection Programmes and implementing the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Relocation (VPR) scheme. These are very good initiatives and the government should keep it up and strive to improve on this.
Britain might pride herself on being at the summit of the league of humanitarian aid donors, but a question worth exploring is – What is the spirit behind the giving? From Scripture we learn that God loves a cheerful giver while Martin Luther King once said, “Dollars possess the potential for helping wounded children of God on life’s Jericho Road, but unless those dollars are distributed by compassionate fingers they will enrich neither the giver nor the receiver.” Unfortunately, these aids denominated in pounds sterling have been distributed to God’s children with a frown and with little compassion thereby enriching neither the giver nor the receiver. Britain’s attitude towards refugees is still hostile except for a brief pause when the image of the lifeless body of Aylan Kurdi was displayed on the front pages of the very papers that demonised refugees. According to a poll conducted by the Daily Mail, 75% of the respondents felt that Britain should not take in more refugees while a survey conducted by YouGov revealed that most British people felt there should be no increase in admissions of Syrian refugees. In your response, you stated, “The Government will now expand existing resettlement schemes to resettle up to 20,000 Syrians in need of protection during this Parliament.” This is a good initiative, but I am sure you would agree with me that it is a pity that it had to take an image of a dead toddler floating on the sea to change the government’s heart. Moreover, there has been little or no government response to the bodies that continue to be washed up the shores of Lesbos.
I am also saddened by the fact that the government’s harsh tone towards immigrants remains unchanged since I penned my letter. During the Conservative Conference, your boss, Her Excellency Theresa May retorted, “When immigration is too high, when the pace of change is too fast, it’s impossible to build a cohesive society. It’s difficult for schools and hospitals and core infrastructure like housing and transport to cope. And we know that for people in low-paid jobs, wages are forced down even further while some people are forced out of work altogether.” It is this kind of “Us vs. Them” rhetoric that creates a non-cohesive society. Laying every woe that befalls Britain at the feet of immigrants is simplistic at best and dangerous at worst.
You also failed to address the other issues I raised in my letter such as the immigration detention centre, which in recent days became headline news with the revelation of the circumstances surrounding the death of 84-year-old Alois Dvorzac while he was awaiting deportation. I implore you to ask Madam May to use her good office to put an end to the inhumane treatment of immigrants at these de facto prisons. For how long does the British Government want its hands soiled with the blood of migrants and refugees?
Permit me to once again address the issue of Britain’s commitment of £1 billion humanitarian aid to the crisis. At first glance, this amount looks impressive, but if one delves deeper, one will notice that the amount pales in comparison with a) the consequences of Britain’s foreign policy b) the gains generated from Britain’s arm deals. As mentioned in my earlier letter, a key driver of the worsening refugee crisis was Britain’s involvement in the removal of Gadaffi. A post-Gadaffi Libya has become a failed state, which has led to the influx of refugees into Europe as people flee Libya due to the porous borders and the chaos created as a result of Britain and France intervention. In addition, Britain along with America played a crucial role in destabilising Iraq. According to the UN Refugee Agency, as at December 2014, there were around 4.1 million people of concern originating from Iraq (including refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced and stateless persons).
On the issue of arm deals, we should not forget that Britain is a key player in the global arms supply chain. In 2013, the UK made £12.billion from arm sales to oppressive regimes around the world. In 2014, 66% of Britain’s arm exports went to various countries in the Middle East – the epicenter of the current refugee crisis. Some of these weapons have ended up in the hands of ISIS after they overran the militias in Iraq and Syria, for whom these weapons were originally intended. Britain appears to exhibit a schizophrenic personality in which she tops the premier league of humanitarian donors table, while at the same time she tops the global premier league of arms exporters. It is time for the British Government to carry out a self-examination. It could begin by asking – What is the point of handing out £1 billion in aid money with the left hand, only to collect £12 billion of blood money on the right hand?
For the sake of humanity, the Government also needs to have a rethink about its treatment of the refugees detained at the British military base in Dhekalia, Cyprus. The images of refugees locked up in cages, children crying, people with numbers written on their hands, a man threatening to hang himself and another with his face covered in blood bears a disturbing semblance to concentration camps of Nazi Germany.
In conclusion, I plead for the British government to change its flawed approach to the European Refugee Crisis. I plead for the British government to review its current foreign policies which elevates commercial gains over human rights; I plead for the British Government to put an end to the sales of arms to despotic regimes; I plead for the British government to tone down its hostile rhetoric’s against refugees and immigrants; I plead for the British government and the British populace to view refugees and immigrants as human beings – after all Refugees Are Not Bees And Migrants Are Not Ants.
Ahmed Sule, CFA
05 November 2015
Prime Minister David Cameron
Rt Hon Theresa May MP