Tuesday, 14 June 2022

Refugees are innocent


Last November, 27 people died trying to make the treacherous journey in a small boat across the English Channel to reach our shores. Among them were one pregnant woman and three children.

They were desperate humans compelled to make the dangerous journey to the UK for reasons that many don’t seem to understand.

The BBC calls them “migrants”; the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, and some other media call them “illegal”; some Tory MPs and Nigel Farage call them “invaders”.

Home Secretary, Priti Patel, calls most of them “economic migrants”.

They are none of those.

They are mostly desperate, destitute, often stateless men, women and children fleeing from war, torture, oppression and persecution.

Many of them are escaping from countries that the UK was complicit in bombing in the first place, helping to create a world-wide refugee catastrophe.

They are people in genuine need of protection.

Nobody risks their lives across treacherous waters in unsuitable and unsafe boats unless they are deeply distressed and determined, with nothing left to lose.


Why don’t they seek asylum in the first safe country they reach? Because it isn’t that simple. You may think it is, but it isn’t.

For one thing, some countries don’t want them. They really don’t.

For another, escaping from danger – genuine, terrifying, deadly danger – is just part of it.

Then what?

Your country has been lost to you. The place you grew up, had family, memories, possessions, your home, your career. Now unsafe, maybe never safe to return.

You have to start again, either alone, or whoever you managed to bring with you.

Just a few want to get to the UK. Really, by comparison, it’s a tiny number. But the ones who tenaciously want to make it to our shores against all odds often have compelling reasons.

The number one reason refugees are desperate to continue their journey from France to the UK is that they have family ties here. In fact, this covers at least 50% of cases in the experience of the charity, Care4Calais.

As the charity points out, ‘Family ties run deep, especially when you have lost everything else.’


Some politicians and media call refugees “migrants”. That’s entirely wrong.

The term migrant means a person who moves from one place to another in order to find work or better living conditions. Migrants voluntarily leave their home countries for another and can voluntarily return home at any time.

That’s not the case for refugees.

The term refugee means a person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution or natural disaster. They must leave their homes involuntarily and they cannot return.

Boris Johnson has said those who get here illegally are illegal and will be treated accordingly. It’s beyond bloody nasty.

It’s not asylum seekers who are illegal; it’s Mr Johnson and his government for planning to shun asylum seekers arriving here and instead forcibly flying them 4,000 miles away to Rwanda.

All at far greater expense than the cost of providing asylum to genuine refugees in the first place.

What other way is there for an asylum seeker to reach the UK unless by so-called illegal means?

Asylum can only usually be sought in the UK once in the UK. What a conundrum.

If the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary really cared about the plight, and safety, of desperate refugees (yes, most, but not all, are genuine refugees) then they would make the criminally induced hazardous journey across the English Channel entirely unnecessary.

The UK only takes a relatively low number of asylum seekers. We’re yet another so-called civilised country that doesn’t really want them.

If we wanted to help, we could allow refugees to apply for asylum without first having to endure a perilous voyage across the Channel to get here.

By making such a chancy crossing the only way to seek asylum here, the Prime Minister and Home Secretary are complicit in aiding and abetting odious gangsters who are making millions out of desolate people.

The language and actions of our current government are beyond despicable.

Like some of our media, they are advocating sheer hate against people who, in many cases, have been devastated as a direct result of our country’s violent interventions of their homes.


Let’s be clear. Refugees are innocent.

Under international law – signed up to by the UK – there is no such entity as an illegal asylum seeker or refugee.

▪ Under international law – signed up to by the UK – it is accepted that asylum seekers may often need to use irregular and illegal routes and cross many borders before applying for asylum.

▪ Under international law – signed up to by the UK – there is no legal obligation for an asylum seeker to seek asylum or to stay in the first safe country they reach.

▪ Under international law – signed up to by the UK – there is an absolute obligation to accept and offer refuge to asylum seekers who have genuinely had to escape from war and danger in their home countries.


Ms Patel has claimed that 70% of those making the crossing are “…economic migrants. They are not genuine asylum seekers.”

Statements like that have helped to create severe animosity in the UK towards those arriving here across the Channel.

But in-depth research published by the RefugeeCouncil has brought into question the claims made by the Home Secretary.

Their research covered the period January 2020 to June 2021.

The Refugee Council's analysis, using UK Home Office data and Freedom of Information requests, found that 91% of people who travelled by boat across the Channel came from 10 countries where human rights abuses and persecution were common.

These were Afghanistan, Iran, Syria, Iraq, Sudan, Vietnam, Kuwait, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Yemen

The charity’s investigation revealed that overall, nearly two-thirds of people arriving here in small boats are deemed to be genuine refugees and allowed to remain.

Of those arriving from Syria, 88% were granted asylum at the initial decision stage. From Eritrea, 84%.

And, for example, of those from Syria not granted asylum at first, 73% were granted asylum on appeal.

Enver Solomon, the chief executive of the Refugee Council, said:

“The analysis contradicts the government’s narrative that people coming across the Channel are not refugees.

“The reality is that people who come to the UK by taking terrifying journeys in small boats across the Channel do so because they are desperately seeking safety having fled persecution, terror and oppression.”

The Refugee Council urges the government to abandon its current approach which, ‘is destined to fail by simply forcing people, who through no fault of their own are in search of safety, to take even greater risks.'


The answer? The Refugee Council proposes this:

‘The only way to save lives on these dangerous routes is to stop people believing that these journeys are the only way to have a claim for asylum heard in the UK.  

‘If the Government want to truly stop people smugglers, for example, then we must create safe routes and remove their trade. 

‘We understand this is a challenging and complex issue – but there are solutions that can be put in place.’


Nobody should be losing their lives trying to reach our shores to claim asylum. Once here, nobody should then be forcibly jettisoned 4,000 miles away to Rwanda.

Refugees are innocent. They should not be treated as if they are criminals. Home Secretary, Priti Patel, says Rwanda will treat our refugees with “fairness and compassion”.

Why can’t we?


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