Speaking for Ourselves

Channel Crossings: What about the people?

Channel Crossings: What about the people?


 Migrant Voice - Channel Crossings: What about the people?

It's about time we talked about people. These are human beings.

We are sad and heartbroken about the deaths in the Channel. But above all we are angry.

Angry because the deaths were unnecessary and avoidable: they are the latest dreadful tragedy in a chain of events that stem from politicians’ preference for posturing over practical policy and humanity.

Angry because all the focus of the government is on securitisation, militarisation, violence, fences, walls, barbed wire and very little focus on the people at the centre of this.

The government(s) should stop denying that they are directly responsible for ensuring there is no alternative route. Their policies are pushing people onto the boats.

We are angry, above all, because wherever the blame is put - on smugglers, the French, “the immigration industry” - the focus of this uproar is entirely misplaced. The focus should be on people: the men, women and children like us in every respect, except right now their lives are in danger and they are seeking sanctuary.

A man from Yemen (where 80 per cent of the population is in need of protection and aid, and where British weapons are in action every day) told Migrant Voice Executive Director Nazek Ramadan that he stepped into a Channel dinghy three times and three times clambered out. He was terrified. But he summoned up every last ounce of will and boarded again.

People are desperate. Our shared humanity says we must help.

We need to place fellow humans at the top of our priorities.

Put humanity in place of hostility.

Welcome people needing help.

Uphold our international obligations rather than proposing legislation (the proposed Borders Bill) that undermines international law.

Provide safe routes to sanctuary. It's the government's responsibility.

At present asylum-seekers need to be in the UK to make their claim for safety. So they cross the Channel. Government talks about safe routes but settlement schemes exist mostly on paper. Even the resettlement scheme for Afghans (for whom we have a special historical and political responsibility) has still not opened. 

“Are you mad?”, Nazek Ramadan asked a mother about to risk her life and that of her baby by trying to climb a high fence on her way to Britain. “I have no other option,” the woman replied. “My husband is in UK, and I’ve been in a refugee camp for a long time. I can’t survive without him. I need to join him.”

Image credit: James Loesch/Flickr, resized and licensed for use under CC BY-SA 2.0  

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Phone: +44 (0) 207 832 5824
Email: [email protected]

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Number: 1142963 (England and Wales); SC050970 (Scotland)

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