WHY DON’T PEOPLE STAY IN THE FIRST ‘SAFE’ COUNTRY?
“So first, let’s look at the neighbouring countries of the places people are fleeing, the first places that they come to…
Often, it’s not just a country that is unstable, but it’s entire regions. ISIS aren’t afraid of international borders (except the Israeli one of course), and there are ethnic and religious differences in neighbouring countries too. In Africa, so much of the troubles are a result of climate change that neighbouring countries have exactly the same troubles as the countries that people are leaving. However, the vast majority of people ARE staying in their neighbouring countries, in the hope that they will return home soon. When we visited Za’atari Camp in Jordan, right on the border of Syrian, we learnt that 80,000 Syrian refugees live there. This is easier when your ethnic or religious origin is the same as that in your neighbouring country. But ethnic and religious persecutions a big reason that people don’t feel safe in the first neighbouring countries. I’ll give just two examples:
1. The Syrian Kurds in neighbouring Turkey MAY feel like they’re in vulnerable situation in Erdogans Turkey.
2. Somalian refugees in neighbouring Kenya are still suffering from prejudice. Following the Nairobi attack, the situation for the people living in the camps is dangerous for some. And the government has stated on 6th May that it can no longer provide refuge.
The situation in refugee camps, often in neighbouring countries is dire to say the least. The camps are overcrowded, with hundreds of thousands of people forced to live together in close conditions, with a lack of hygiene, sanitation, healthcare and education, the life is intolerable for some. Our friend Rebecca Smith� visited a camp in the Lebanon recently, describing the conditions so vividly. She spoke about the Lebanese garbage crisis, the spread of disease and infection and I thought how can anybody be expected to stay in these conditions? She spoke specifically about the proximity to human waste, the eye infections and the health and safety of the people displaced.
Lack of education for children in camps is also a big issue. 50-80% go without any education at all and in the camps, classes of over 100 are common. Funding being a big problem, with international aid agencies calculating that $638 million is needed. Current funding is $164 million. Schools are overwhelmed and in need of staff and supplies. 2.8 million Syrian children are now out of school but they’re not the only ones. Traumatised children from war ravaged countries first need psychological and emotional support before we should worry about teaching maths etc. 79% of the children have experienced or witnessed a death in their families and nearly half are showing severe signs of PTSD. This is 10 times the normal.
The average length of displacement is now 17 years. Would you keep your family in a refugee camp for such a period of time? What would you do in these conditions?
So they keep moving, and who can really blame them? Often they arrive in Libya (very very unsafe for most of them) or Turkey (not safe for some of them) with the hope of arriving in Europe which is seen as a place of sanctuary. I
‘ll promise you this though, they don’t all want to come to your little village in Derbyshire. They don’t all even want to come to England. As has been described to me many times before, they just want to go somewhere where they can live again like everybody else. It’s not too much to ask is it?
So then they arrive in Greece or Italy. Is it fair that these two economically crucified countries should be forced to look after all of Europes refugees? Should we not share the responsibility of humanity? In Greece, the EU relocation scheme was agreed in September 2015. It was for 66,400 to be relocated to other European countries. So far, less than 1,000 have been relocated. Overcrowded conditions in makeshift camps are just unbelievable. Families are sleeping rough on the streets.
In the UK, there are over 600,000 empty homes. Surely we can look after our homeless. AND surely we can take our share of European responsibility. It’s not too much to ask is it?
Finally, greed and power, war and climate change will see this escalate in the future. There are already over 65 million displaced people in this world. More than at any point in our history ever. It’s the population of Italy, and it’s growing. Right now, one in every 120 people is a refugee. This is growing all the time. Climate change is worsening. We need to deal with the root causes of this problem. We need to provide safe passage into Europe and we need to provide appropriate systems of care for the people who are coming. If we fail in this, then just wait for the fall out. We’ve created a melting pot for extremism already and we keep adding fuel to the flames.
My point in this as always though is to keep asking yourself: what would I do if I was in their shoes?”
Thank you Brendan Woodhouse� for answering another of the question’s many of you ask!