Written by Jing Coulson and Francesca Jones with Amnesty International Society
Edited by Eve Brown
The refugee crisis is one of the most divisive topics in our society. It played a significant role in the controversial Brexit negotiations of 2016, and we frequently see distressing scenes of refugees fleeing Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq to name just a few. Millions of people live in stagnant refugee camps, their lives destroyed, loved ones murdered and homes obliterated. The “Jungle Camp” in Calais is just one example of many migrant camps around Europe. This is an unofficial camp and there is no central authority, so crime rates are high. In a report titled “No place for children” the Red Cross outlined dangers to children (or unaccompanied minors) in this camp which include minors being “vulnerable to abuse, exploitation by smugglers and trafficking.”
Many people point out that with rapid population growth, nations cannot sustain the influx of refugees. We regularly see the impact of a pressured NHS and the housing crisis, so it’s reasonable to assume thousands more people will increase the pressure on an already strained infrastructure. In addition to this, the atrocious terrorist attacks in Paris, Brussels, Manchester and London instilled fear into the European population. Some even find it difficult to distinguish between ‘Islam’ and ‘ISIS’; an often-cited objection to accepting refugees being that IS could be seeding the refugee camps with insurgents, with a purpose of instilling terror. However Syrian Refugees have more reason to fear and despise IS more than Western Europeans do. The confused image of Islam means that the influx of refugees presents a very real fear, which cannot be shifted.
Whilst many people see the refugees as a problem and a burden on our society, The Refugee Council who work to support and empower refugees, state that Refugees make a huge contribution to the UK. An estimated 30,000 jobs have been created in Leicester by Ugandan Asian refugees since 1972, about 1,200 medically qualified refugees are recorded on the British Medical Associations database and they also suggest that Asylum seeking children contribute positively to schools across the country, enabling successful integration of families into local communities. We should no longer see the refugee crisis as a divisive topic, but rather one which brings out the best in us and allows us to show humanity and compassion to those most desperate for it around us.
Amnesty International is a charity focusing on advocating for human rights and campaigning for them to be upheld. In response to the migrant crisis stemming back to 2015, Amnesty launched an ‘I Welcome Refugees’ campaign. This campaign focuses on lobbying the government to open up safe and legal routes to reduce the number of migrant lives lost at sea. It also calls for more effective resettlement programmes, aiming to open up opportunities for migrants to obtain work, study and medical visas, and allow families to unite together in a safe welcoming country. In 2017, the campaign focused on Rohingya people in Myanmar, who have been racially segregated by the Myanmar Army, being subject to human rights violations including wrongful killing, rape and massacres. A petition to demand the Myanmar authorities to end the armed forces’ campaign on violence, and to ensure humanitarian agencies, the UN and other media outlets have free unrestricted and secure access to Rakhine State has been in effect, securing 46,371 supporters. Amnesty are launching a new focus within their ‘I Welcome Refugees’ campaign which will be announced in the upcoming month.
FXU Amnesty International Society is a new society that was re-established this year. We believe that everybody should have a chance of living, and wish to live in a world that is considerate of others and where opportunities for living a safe, non-discriminary life are common-place. As a way of doing this, we aim to be a student voice for Amnesty’s campaigns and to fundraise on their behalf; ensuring the work they do to change lives continues to happen. If you wish to find out more information or to join the society, we can be found on Facebook, or through email at FXUAmnesty@outlook.com.
Amnesty is organising a week of action ahead of the private members bill for refugee family reunification. It’s going to be from the 16-23 of February.