LibLink: Jane Dodds We must fulfil our moral duty and embrace refugees who seek safety and sanctuary

Jane Dodds makes a compelling case for a compassionate and welcoming approach to seekers of sanctuary in a column for Nation Cymru this week.

She challenges the “invasion’ narrative put out by the right:

With Nigel Farage decrying an “invasion” of our shores and Sarah Atherton, Conservative MP for Wrexham, calling for the Royal Navy to stop “huge scale” crossings, you could easily be led to believe we were seeing hundreds of thousands of people coming to the UK every day.

But the numbers of people seeking asylum are not increasing; despite the rhetoric which wants us to believe we are being invaded.

By allowing this dangerous narrative, which tells us we are under attack, we are directly putting lives at risk.

This is far from hyperbole – earlier in the summer Abdulfatah Hamdallah, a refugee from Sudan, tragically lost his life trying to cross the channel in an unsafe makeshift vessel.

When did we become so heartless and cruel, she asks:

Five years ago I travelled to Calais to donate tents, tarpaulin sleeping bags collected from across concerned people in Powys and saw first hand the living conditions these people were in and heard about the horrors they were escaping from. Just like Abdulfatah they weren’t coming to the UK to “scrounge” or to “take our jobs” they were doing what anyone of us would do if we found ourselves I n that situation – striving to make life better and safer for them and their loved ones.

I am a child protection social worker by profession. I have spent years supporting vulnerable people all around the world, particularly children seeking refuge and do you know what? I have never met a single family who does not have a heart breaking story for why they’re making the journey.

We hear a lot of talk about how “we’re full”, that we should “look after our own” and “have enough problems already to deal with”. Since when did we become so heartless and cruel?

These are people’s lives we are talking about, people who have nothing and are risking their lives to travel to a place where they feel is safe.

And she points out that those who come here seeking asylum contribute to our country too:

If you need any proof of the value that asylum seekers can bring to us, listen to this interview with Dr Tirej Brimo, a refugee from Syria who now works as a doctor for the NHS

We don’t have to choose whether we look after people already in the UK or to offer refugees and asylum seekers the right to stay in the UK. We can do both, we just need the political willpower to challenge this false narrative and stand up for the rights of refugees and asylum seekers.

You can read her whole article here.

 

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23 Comments

  • Christopher Love 11th Oct '20 - 4:31pm

    The counter is that ppl care more about potholes, or whether the EU prevents them from buying 1kW vacuum-cleaners.

  • Whenever I read these posts, I am always left with the nagging doubt as to how many refugees will end up in Liberal Democrat areas. I look forward to seeing the good people of St Albans, Abingdon and Bath, nice prosperous areas which could easily afford it, welcoming the building of extra accommodation for refugees. I would suggest in the nicest area of town as well, so that they can benefit from the great local schools and shop at Waitrose, and so that the residents of these areas can really benefit from the diversity that they wish on others.

  • Christopher Love 11th Oct '20 - 9:09pm

    @Ed
    Fair comments, essentially altruism start at home. We would do better with enlightened self-interest

    This is a complex intl issue, not helped by our expensive destruction of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya. For the same money we could have converted Afghanistan to grow cotton, not opium. Not to mention loss of life. But why didn’t we?

  • We should be taking on the Home Secretary and the Prime Minister for their misguided and appalling comments about Lawyers and Immigration Lawyers in particular who are simply doing their job.

  • I recognise that immigration is a very difficult subject to talk about let alone resolve with any easy answers, but surely it could be possible to expect our leaders to treat these people with a degree of humanity and respect, after all, it was the actions of wealthy nations such as the UK that forced many of these people to flee their homes for a more secure future.

  • Nonconformistradical 12th Oct '20 - 10:33am

    @Barry Lofty
    You said it!!

    Trouble is – history tends to be written by the winners – they only write their half of the story and don’t want to know about the other half.

  • In a complicated world, helping someone who is truly fleeing from persecution is an easy win. The devil is in the detail. How do you determine if someone is really escaping from intolerable conditions and how do you best really help them?

  • Christopher Love 12th Oct '20 - 1:07pm

    @Ed
    Thank you for puncturing the Lib Dem bubble
    If our values really are better, then we can lead by example as you suggest.
    House say 5,000 refugees in Brecon & Radnor, for example

  • Philip Latham 12th Oct '20 - 3:12pm

    We know that many local groups and charities are working to make asylum seekers and refugees welcome in all parts of the UK. In fact the Government is the exception because their horizon is just the next election so they keep alive the dog whistle politics to connect with the twenty per cent with negative views of asylum seekers and refugees.
    At this time the Government has been largely successful in restricting access to the UK but in the coming two or three decades the picture is going to change radically.

    On current projections based on current Climate heating and European Governments’ policies, Southern Europe will become uninhabitable. This will lead to mass migration within Europe. Even if the Government is unprepared NGO’s need to create an embryo structure. We shouldn’t forget that NGO’s led on the kinder transport.

    Consider how unprepared the Government was for the current emergency. Those that care about their fellow humans should not give up hope but prepare.

  • Sue Sutherland 12th Oct '20 - 5:40pm

    It is truly awful that the Government has operated a hostile environment against immigrants since Teresa May was Home Secretary. They are enabled to do this because a large number of the population support them. In my view these attitudes have become worse because austerity has reduced the number of services people can call on when needed and has stretched the NHS and education provision. People therefore feel that they are competing for scarce resources and are easily persuaded that immigrants will appropriate those services because they need that kind of support.
    If we want to create a less hostile environment we have to plan a safety net that is more generous at present so that services improve. There will always be prejudice and there always was in our history of receiving refugees through the centuries. There was always a mixed reception, but now loud voices are spreading hatred so we need to create a situation in which they are seen to be a narrow minded minority.

  • Nonconformistradical 12th Oct '20 - 8:29pm

    @John Probert re posting at 12th Oct ’20 – 5:22pm
    It’s our own fault we are not building enough houses – land hoarding, abysmal workmanship in the building industry etc..

    Perhaps those refugees. if allowed to work here, might even do a better job of building those houses?

  • Quite a sweeping statement above which many in the construction industry may question, not least amongst them many of the immigrants who are allready here and who currently work in the industry.

  • Margaret Lally 12th Oct '20 - 9:39pm

    I agree with Jane Dodds that we have a moral duty to treat asylum seekers with compassion as well as dignity and fairness. We take fewer than many other European countries and certainly far fewer than those countries which border the areas asylum seekers are fleeing e.g. Jordan and Turkey. As a number of commentators have said immigrants generally make a huge contribution to this country and I have never met an asylum seeker who is not desperate to work and contribute to the country which has offered them sanctuary. Yes providing enough housing and services for everyone is an major issue but that is because as a country we have, over decades, failed to invest in strategies which provide good housing for all, and sustainable public services.

  • Magerat Lally

    ‘I have never met an asylum seeker who is not desperate to work and contribute to the country which has offered them sanctuary’.

    In my line of work I have met several, both in work and out gang masters and workers, both not wanting to contribute to anything other than their own prosperity. Maybe you should get out more, maybe walk the streets of non lib dem targets after midnight, they are not hard to find, maybe hard to reach and in my experience they would not buy in to them lib Dem preamble.

  • Andrew Tampion 13th Oct '20 - 8:12am

    At what stage of the process do asylum seekers/refugees qualify for UBI?

  • The UK actually contributes huge amounts of cash supporting refugees, very few other countries spend proportionally as much or more than we do. It just so happens that the current thrust of policy is to support them to stay in friendly countries closer to their own,rather than flinging open the doors to permanent residence to everyone who can get to the U.K. that is a political decision, which is debatable.
    I too have heard many stories some of which have been truly aweful others, disturbing but perhaps not in the way Jacqueline Bell is suggesting. Their is a hotel in the town in which I work which is being used to house people who entered the country illegally and subsequently claimed asylum. Many of them are presenting with drug and alcohol dependency,of the ones I have worked with I would say they split pretty much 70:30 as to those that one might want to welcome into the country and those which you wouldn’t want anywhere near anyone you care about. To try and argue that they are all selfless assets to the country is verging on delusion, or deliberate deceipt. To suggest that anything but a whole hearted embrace and welcome to every single applicant regardless of who they are and why they are here shows a lack of compassion verges on cancel culture behaviour.

  • nvelope2003 17th Oct '20 - 4:04pm

    Perhaps people could try to respect the sensitivities of immigrants and not anger them by for example showing pictures of the Prophet when this is forbidden by their religion. Maybe this lack of respect reflects an imperialist mindset even among those who consider themselves liberal minded.
    President Macron seemed unable to see the irony of condemning the tragic murder of the teacher who used such pictures to demonstrate the need for free speech despite objections from parents, by referring to republican values when the French Republic was established by murdering over 200,000 French people, many of them beheaded.

  • Gerald Stewart 22nd Oct '20 - 10:00pm

    Perhaps immigrants should think twice before settling in a country that has radically different values to theirs, including freedom of speech, women’s rights, LGBT rights, tolerence of the other, rather than threatening their host population with violence if they dare question their beliefs.

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