We need to act: The global refugee crisis
Over the past week, Lily Allen has occupied the media spotlight after her documentary on the camp in Calais caused controversy. Lily is known for her hit single “Smile”, but smile she did not, as the main clip that caused controversy contained her crying and apologizing on behalf of the UK to a refugee.
All the problems of politically active celebrities aside, the issue she was trying to bring attention to has now been partly acted upon. The UK has accepted a minuscule amount of unaccompanied child refugees and is set to accept some more in the near future.
From this long overdue policy, the ridiculous argument of age verification has emerged. This is acting as a sideshow, distracting from the fact the UK isn’t doing enough to help ease the refugee crisis. Many of these children have been waiting in the camp for years, if they had been let in when they arrived, like they were meant to be under the Dublin agreement, then we wouldn’t have much of an issue.
Conservative minister David Davies stated he understands that they are “desperate”, but we can’t allow them a “free ride” into the country. The thing is, it’s hardly a “free ride” travelling across half the world, waiting in that camp for years to finally, and rightfully, gain entrance to the country to be with your family.
Besides this, the issue has been brought to the fore once again. However, this time the argument has shifted focus. It is now unacceptable to admit entry to just refugees. Instead, they need the preconditions of being a child, and one without a guardian at that. Additionally, they need family in the UK.
Even after this, many in the country think that we should vet their age. It is just a handful of individuals that are gaining safety and security to be with their family in the UK, and at the top of many people’s agenda, is vetting them.
Thankfully the government shall not engage in, what it called, “unethical” age vetting. Looks like Lily Allen’s apology worked, but it is a rather sore victory. This discussion has revealed that many UK politicians and members of the media are incapable of possessing human emotions. Some are mad at Lily’s apology and I am too. She only touched the surface of the endless list of apologies we need to make for the UK’s moral bankruptcy.
How the Canadian Media chooses to welcome refugees fleeing war Vs how the right wing British media chooses to ‘welcome’ them pic.twitter.com/prdKKOlGNi
— Alex Miller (@millno)
On the global scale, the big question is how can we all do more? Is placing greater political pressure on government leaders working, or is it merely granting them further scope to devise such ridiculous policies such as ‘age vetting’ in order to dodge the commitments they should morally ascribe to.
Hopefully, a change will come soon. The newly elected Secretary General of the UN, António Guterres, who is the former head of the UN’s refugee agency, may be able to positively affect the international humanitarian crisis. Perhaps the UK could learn from Guterres, when it comes to redefining our policies regarding the refugee crisis.
It is discernible that the most successful way to tackle and control the problem of displaced people is by protecting them: protection is a gateway to rights. With regards to UK policy making, we should therefore uphold refugees’ rights to work and education is the best way to ensuring their protection.
With regards to child refugees, statistics show that European countries have accepted staggeringly low numbers of child refugees in comparison to smaller, less equipped states, such as Lebanon. This small middle eastern country is currently host to 1.4 million refugees, with the highest refugee-to-native-population ratio in the world; with 232 refugees per 1000 Lebanese.
If we agree that the best solution for displaced people is to protect them, then capable European countries must accept more refugees, particularly child refugees, as the countries accepting the most refugees lack the capacity to adequately protect them, which is going to perpetuate the current humanitarian crisis.
So what does this mean for the EU? When the average time spent as a refugee or internally displaced person is 20 years, the idea that these people should have to wait for European states to complete the long overdue bargaining of how little each state should be required to take in, makes no sense.
The EU policy for the 3000+ unaccounted for refugee children across Europe, and even greater numbers across the world, should be to protect them from the moment they are displaced, through to a sustainable and durable solution to their future.
Children should primarily be sent to any safe country where they have relatives to care for them, and on failing that, the EU states should accept and protect child refugees through a system of allocation. Upon allocation, every refugees’ rights should be protected; with safe shelter, care, and enrolment into education as a matter of urgency. Ultimately, until we are able to take responsibility as a unity of states, the current humanitarian crisis shaping the international system will not be alleviated any time soon.