It’s simple – if Britain is willing to bomb a country, it should be the first nation state to accept those fleeing this escalation of conflict. Under no circumstances is this a one way deal. Why is it that parliament is quick to vote for air-strikes but sluggish to raise refugee numbers?
In 2016 – sixty eight years after the Declaration of Human Rights and sixty six years after Britain accepted the European Convention on Human Rights, the European political community are struggling undertake (what is simply) their moral obligation.
Save innocent human life.
The European ‘project’ – which I support – has shamefully resorted to tear gassing children, incarcerating thousands and refusing to assist those drowning in the freezing night waters of the Mediterranean. News headlines fill our little worlds with images of packed trains, flooded campsites and starving infants. Combined, the European Union has the largest economy in the world. Is this really the way we should be treating those most in need? Of course it’s not.
Thankfully, Germany has taken the lead on the issue. Perhaps due to historical and political responsibilities, the north European state accepted over one million refugees in 2015. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the British government. At a European summit in September, David Cameron opted out of taking ‘his fair share’, instead offering a measly 20,000 over a period of four years. A pathetic response to one of humanity’s largest disasters of a generation. On an international level, Britain is more ‘hot air’ than substance – a reputation developed after years of weak, ineffective and heartless foreign policy.
So how many refugees – and they are refugees – should Britain take in? 20,000? 100,000? In past years, the Home Office have asserted the idea that one refugee family can live within two hundred British households. Using population figures of sixty four million, this widely used formula would suggest Britain has the capacity to accept 320,000. Although not the one million Germany has achieved, it would be a damn good start.
Britain was once at the forefront of writing the world’s key humanitarian conventions and yet fails to coordinate an appropriate response to the major problems facing the world today. The government have consciously denied Syrians their most basic rights to life, liberty and security. In the words of Nelson Mandela, “to deny any person their human rights is to challenge their very humanity.”
Together, we should challenge the government and say no – not in our name.
I ask the Prime Minister to reflect on this next time he considers lowering the tone of debate any further.