An open letter to Nick Herbert MP.
I am writing in response to your comment article in last week’s paper (September 3).
Like many, I have been following the progress of the so-called ‘Migrant Crisis’ in the news and on social media and, like many, I have been in a state of despair – not because I am angry that there are so many people trying to enter the UK, like I am being told every time I turn on the news.
I am in despair because that is what I am being told I should think. I am in despair because I watch the images and I see humans, not the ‘dangerous immigrants’ that I apparently should be in fear of.
First of all, these are not migrants. They are refugees.
They are escaping a life so dangerous that they would rather risk walking thousands of miles through hostile terrain, risk arrest by cutting through fences.
They have lost everything – their homes, their businesses, their friends and family. They cannot access education. They cannot get medical attention. They cannot access clean food and water.
They consider it better to risk their own lives, and those of their families, in sailing across the Mediterranean in craft utterly unsuitable for such a journey rather than risk staying put and almost certain death.
These are not the actions of people simply wanting a better economic future. These are the actions of people in a state of desperation the likes of which we cannot even begin to imagine.
Not only are we failing as a country to deal with this situation, but we are failing as human beings, too.
It is not a Conservative issue, a Labour issue, a Green issue, a UKIP issue.
This crisis has gone far beyond politics. Now is the time when we all need to come together, because regardless of our ideological differences, our racial differences, our religious differences there is one thing we all have in common – we are all human beings.
75 years ago Britain was happy to take in refugees from Poland, Germany, France, Latvia, Lithuania, etc.
Yet now we are facing the worst refugee crisis since the Second World War, Europe is erecting walls and barbed wire.
Police are forcibly inking numbers onto the arms of people being taken off trains. We are sending armed troops to prevent people fleeing to safety.
Britain, once a country that would proudly help those in need, is now pandering to those who would rather see a child washed up on the shores of southern Europe or lying in a bombed out house in Syria than allow that person entry into the UK.
Where has our heart gone? Is humanity and decency no longer a trait we wish to have in the 21st century?
More people are born in the UK each year than have attempted to reach Europe. There is no ‘swarm’, no ‘invasion’.
Like with almost any human tragedy there has been a concerted effort to dehumanise those who have been caught up in the crisis so that our politicians can feel more at ease with themselves for doing nothing, so that we can all sleep comfortably at night.
After all, such language is all around us from ‘collateral damage’ to ‘human resources’ to ‘immigrants’.
If we do not have to acknowledge a human as being a human, if we do not have to put a face to a word, then it makes it easier for us to all go on with our lives without giving any consideration to those worse off than us.
When 1 in every 33 properties in the Pulborough Parish is standing empty (a third of which have been unoccupied for more than six months), surely this puts into perspective that there is much, much more that the UK as a whole can do to take in our fair share of refugees.
Furthermore, more than double the UK’s quota of refugees for the next three years could be housed entirely within the long-term empty properties in the Horsham District alone – they could all be given a house without a single additional brick having to be laid. These houses are not doing anything at the present.
The Government, developers and councils have little or no interest in bringing them back into use or using them to contribute to our own domestic housing lists, so why can we not utilise them for those who are in the most desperate and urgent of need?
If the Horsham district alone could accommodate more than double the Government’s quota, then just think how many hundreds of thousands of other empty properties there are across the UK.
The UK could easily take in our fair share of refugees and deal with our own domestic housing needs without incurring any additional strain.
After all, the UK has the legal and moral obligation to help refugees.
Wouldn’t this be what you would want if it were you and your family in their situation?
Stane Street Close
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