No room at the inn for refugees

Sitting here looking out over the English Channel, having a hot meal, a great cup of hot coffee in warm safe surroundings with a warm comfortable bed awaiting me at the end of the day able to come and go as I please and knowing what tomorrow will bring, I have not a worry in the world.

For those who do not know the English Channel at this time of year is murky, cold looking and uninviting, the waves crash onto the beach pebbles then draw in to come again with the smell of seaweed and a sound that has never been forgotten from child hood. The same water through which owners of thousand of boats large or small risked their lives to save troops at Dunkirk.

I am less than 50 miles (80km) from Calais where, while I sit here in comfort, thousands of human beings are being rousted from ‘The Jungle’ — a temporary tent city for those trying to find freedom escaping to a new secure life.

They do not know not what tomorrow brings or even if there is a tomorrow. They are unwanted men, women and children caught in a time warp not of their making. Children are crying, women are desperate and men are frustrated. Bulldozers are about to commence pulling the tent city sending thousands of human beings to who knows where. Authorities are commencing ‘processing’, a historical expression that has a fearful meaning.

The conditions under which they have been living are primitive to say the least but better than that which awaits them in their countries of origin. They have committed no crimes, they have no disease, they are just normal families, normal people who have done nothing wrong other than being born in the wrong place at the wrong time. They are desperate, frighten and confused wanting to settle in a Country and become good citizens and join with their families.

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They seek our help but get very little. We think of these people as piranhas that frighten us to our core for no reason . Whist you sit and read this in comfort, perhaps with a hot cup of coffee, give a thought and consider how lucky you are, we are, to be born in a Western Country where we do not to have to fear everyday that may be our last.

I recently wrote an article for Starts at 60 about the hundreds of people in detention on Naura. Many of the replies I received were written in a manner that makes me wonder what kind of human beings we really are becoming. ‘Go home’; ‘Send them back’; ‘We don’t want them here’; ‘Look after our people first’; and ‘They are all terrorists’ are but a few. I hate terrorism as much as anyone but I do not believe every person looking for a new life, a new start, away from murder rape and pillage, is a threat. Surely we are not that weak of mind, surely we have compassion.

The situation in Calais is parallel with Nauru and it has gone on long enough, it will not stop until we find a solution. We cannot turn the other way, put our head in the sand hoping the problem will go away. My opinion has changed and I’m proud to say so, I just wish others would do the same for we must assist these people to reach their goal. To do so is not weak, it is a sign of strength, of character, of being human.

We are happy to leave these situation to our politicians and public servants to sort out and frankly they are making a mess of it, likewise so are the politicians in here in United Kingdom and other European countries. Political policy and money is being put before human life, in the end it never seems to work, human beings are resilient and thankfully politicians terminal.

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There is very little as private citizen we can do to help these poor people, monetary collections can be made, that may give a feel good feeling for a while, but we do need positive action to help these people return to a normal life with all its expectations.

In a few weeks I return home to Australia, it would be nice to think that things would have changed but I don’t hold my breath. Now is the time to be proactive and ensure our elected officials find a solution to secure the lives of these poor human beings.

What are your thoughts on those who seek refuge in other countries? Have your opinions on refugees and asylum seekers changed over time?

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