Gavin Poole
Refugees – a sad State… …of affairs

By guest contributor Gavin Poole
Gavin is writing in a personal capacity. As a former military officer for over 20 years, Gavin left the RAF and worked at, then ran, the Centre for Social Justice. In 2012 Gavin led a team to start a major regeneration project in East London forming a key component of the economic and social legacy of London 2012.

Has the world lost its moral compass? Is anyone else totally aghast at what is happening in Europe? Any casual bystander with a sense of compassion must wonder what on earth the leaders of the European nations are thinking! The ridiculous suggestion that returning predominantly Syrian and Libyan refugees back to their ‘homes’ is simply inhumane, callous and shows a total disregard to human safety or need. These families they seek to demonise have, more often than not, not only lost all their possessions but husbands, wives, children, homes, neighbours, community and any sense of cohesive society in which they grew up.

‘What is there for them to be returned to?’ we should ask. What help, assistance and support are being offered other than millions being poured into displacement camps on borders? Even the very fabric of their society, their sense of history, has been destroyed. With no sense of past, how can anyone make sense of the future? The systematic and nonsensical destruction of entire communities, cities and regions (‘to rubble-ise’ has been used to refer to such acts after Faluja in Iraq) has gone so far that a new approach to the refugee crisis must be considered. Returning people ‘home’ to where no homes exist should not be regarded as the only way out of this.

Our bureaucrats appear unable to understand that the majority of citizens wish to see a more welcoming and compassionate response; they seemingly look to satisfy the demands of the ever vocal minorities in each country. As the demands get louder, the media focus on uprisings give prominence to the views of those raising questions over national identity (UKIP here and the AfD in Germany are just two such groups), all of which fuels debate and gives the impression the concerns are greater than they are. The politicians sadly react to counter the headlines.

I am genuinely saddened by the collective response of our leaders in Europe. The latest ‘one in, one home’ proposal is a terrible, unjust policy and while migration of such scale is difficult to manage, manage it we must. Yes, it's difficult and of course has implications to each country – but they would do well to consider that Syrian and Libyan civilians did not ask for this. This has been forced upon them. They stayed in their country for years while war was waged in the hope that the situation would improve, but now, with no hope left, they really have little choice.

We should ask those debating this issue at the highest of levels, those who enjoy a stable democracy, rule of law, freedom of passage, a home, a bed, their family and a future to look towards: Would you stay or go? What reception would you wish for? How would you wish to be treated? What would you want for your children? How would you feel if you were being rejected by the international community in such a way?

Who has not been moved, shaken to the core, wept or felt totally helpless when hearing and too often seeing graphically the loss of life as people simply seek safe harbour on a continent that offers so much and can do so for many more?

This is not someone else’s problem. It is ours and it reflects on our generation. For many reasons, global migration in the coming generations will be a serious matter (resources and global warming for example). The principles and policies adopted now will set the tone and example for the future. When people look back, it would be good if it was recognised that we did all that we could to help.

I know that many people feel saddened by the lack of compassion being shown and that decision-making is so far away from us that we feel unable to influence its direction. At times like this, one of the only responses that we control is our ability to remember just what is happening and pray. It is now time to pray in earnest.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by guest contributors are those of the author. Although broadly in keeping with the objectives of Jubilee+, the views and opinions of the guest do not necessarily represent those of the Jubilee+ team and directors and/or other contributors to this site.