Three quarters into the so-called revival of the 20s and what a state of a world we occupy.
A twist on a familiar cliché, but if someone told you just in January, what was happening now, I bet you would be looking at them perplexed, thinking it’s a plot of a forthcoming dystopian Hollywood blockbuster.
The truth is that our society is as fractured as ever, and our lenses now exposed to the oppressive systems that continue to shred everything apart.
As we go into the last quarter of the year, there appears to be a revival of a matter that has met the media’s attention. Every day, a group of innocent people, known lawfully as refugees, travel hours, days, weeks on end, in dangerous conditions, seeking just one thing; a better life. Upon arrival, they hope that they’ll be met with open arms to relieve their desperation, but they enter to be met with peril and a cold shoulder.
The media’s concentration on these innocent people is nothing new. Only a few years ago, reports descended from over the waters in Calais, where there was a campsite, dubbed as the Jungle. Nestled in the city, just before its closure, lived 6,123 people striving to build something from the life they had seen wrecked at the hands of the West.
In recent weeks, we’ve seen cameras go live, and reporters document innocent people drifting across the murky waters, in a situation that is life or death.
These people, each with a story to tell, a life they’d once lived in a country that they called home shunned as a rousing noise of apathy stems from uncaring voices.
Refugees don’t seek to invade the land we occupy, they don’t want to steal your job, and neither do they want to exploit the welfare state. Comments like these weave through the fabric of this nation, as images of vulnerable people drifting across the treacherous waters wanting something prosperous are shown as the headline news.
Statistically, just in 2018, according to the United Nations, there were 126,720 refugees in the United Kingdom; less than a tenth of the population. The welfare state hardly provides refugees with sustainable and decent support, with each member of a household of those seeking refuge given £37.75 a week. Many talk about jobs, but in reality, these people are not even allowed to have one while they seek status.
At the time of writing, a 16-year-old from Sudan was found dead on the beaches of Calais. This tragedy poses a harrowing wakeup call for the necessity of safe and legal pathways, and another example of sheer desperation, as these individuals fight for their lives.
More must be done to change the discourse when talking about refugees. In all of this, they’re humans too.
The underrepresented and marginalised in our society need their stories to be heard and understood, not sidelined or overwhelmed by those who seek to divide and heighten tensions.
Ahmad Al-Rashid, a refugee who arrived in the UK via a ferry, spoke on Twitter just last October, upon the news of 39 migrants found dead in a lorry in Essex. He said ‘people don’t choose death willingly, people don’t put their lives in danger for no reason or purpose’. Ahmad’s emphasis on calling refugees people highlighted to me how there is a lacking to give refugees such recognition.
People; noun; human beings in general or considered collectively.
Ahmad has gone on to write about his journey since then and went to obtain a Master’s at the School of Oriental and African Studies. Ahmad, like many of these people, has strong hopes and ambitions, so why don’t we afford them that?
The stoking of public reaction has stemmed from the sensationalist language of politicians and some media outlets, and one thing that has to be stated is how language matters. Changing the discourse surrounding those who seek safety will transform how many perceive those who they are closer to being to than those at the top.
The disdain against refugees brings out humanity’s worst characteristics, and it merely needs to change. This ‘crisis’ is yet another construction by the government seeking to pit those who are vulnerable and escaping fear, against a nation’s people, as we’re embroiled in a pandemic that is exasperating this country’s social and economic health.
The pandemic is signifying that we are stronger when we work together. I believe we are only stronger as a society when we seek to look out for those who are less fortunate than ourselves. It is inhumane to deny the foundations of human life that many of us are privileged to have, so let’s extend that to refugees.