London is uninhabitable. Five years of war has turned the bustling and flourishing city to rubble. Every resident has been forced to leave, taking only what they can grab to relocate their lives to an unfamiliar province of England. They are still not safe. Every person from Greater Manchester, Birmingham and Coventry has had to flee the country, risking their lives in a bid to escape torture, rape, slavery or death. Every student from Durham, Cambridge, Oxford, UCL, LSE, Kings, Exeter, Bristol, Liverpool, Sheffield, Newcastle and York has been brutally slaughtered. They could come for you at any time. Your family. Across the water, the rest of Europe continue to lead extravagant lives in safety. They enjoy three meals a day instead of starvation, human rights, an education, and sleep instead of battery by the rain, wind and constant fear. Moving there would offer safety for you and your family. It would remove the possibility of unexplained and indefinite disappearances. The journey is perilous so there is a large chance you could die, but the small chance of salvation is worth it. After weeks of courageous and exhaustive travel, combatting the elements and facing abuse, you finally make it to the border. But you can’t enter. They won’t let you. Because you were not born within the same artificial lines imposed upon the natural world they dehumanise you. This ‘civilised’ country is breeching your human rights by leaving you in accumulating disorder to be victim to the cold, illness and hostility, to live in a constant state of fear. Yet they continue to pretend nothing is wrong.
We are lucky this is not our reality. With 250,000 citizens murdered, 8,000,000 internally displaced and 4,000,000 forced to flee their home country, Syrians are not so fortunate. The destruction of their country is real. The people experiencing this atrocity are real. The abduction, torture, rape and slavery they are desperately trying to escape is real. The government shutting the door in their face is real. These people are more than the numbers we see in the newspaper headlines or the ‘bunch of migrants’ the prime minister dismissed them as. They are human, just like us. If you, your sibling or your parents were subjected to the suffering of these people, if your human rights were violated like theirs continue to be, you would want someone to do something. These people have the right to a safe life. They need our help.
The crisis momentarily seemed real for Westerners in September 2015 when the photo of drowned three year old Aylan Kurdi washed onto a Turkish beach was broadcast in the media. It highlighted the danger refugees face trying to reach safety, many travelling in overcrowded fishing boats with no life jackets, no trained captains and insufficient supplies for the journey. Despite the emergency continuing, the global outcry seems to have faded.
We must protect human lives. It is therefore crucial that we urge David Cameron to welcome more refugees into Britain. According to the Guardian, the number of asylum seekers was over 100,000 in early 2001 and absorbing such numbers did not cause major economic or social problems. Yvette Cooper quite rightly said it is “immoral and cowardly” to close our doors. With 218,000 long-term empty houses, Britain has the refuge which these people need and have the right to. The government’s current plan is to admit 5000 refugees a year. Compare this to the 4,000,000 people who have had to flee their country. Britain, we can do better. We can make more people safe. Your voice can make a huge difference – before public and political pressure, the UK only accepted 216 Syrian refugees.
It is time to start thinking about our fellow humans who are seeking safety, talking about them and acting to defend their right to asylum. People are dying while governments spend billions on border controls. It is not out of your depth to cause change.
Write to your local MP to encourage them to welcome more refugees and endorse the implementation of Amnesty International’s eight ways to solve the world refugee crisis which can be found here.