Tear down the fences!

This is the text from Left Unity’s latest leaflet on the refugee crisis.

The world is finally waking up to the plight of refugees. David Cameron and the British establishment have suddenly found themselves dramatically out of step with the great outpouring of public support for those fleeing war in Syria and elsewhere.

Across Britain people have been so moved that they are not only declaring that ‘refugees are welcome here’, many are going one step further and collecting huge amounts in donations. The camp in Calais – so recently the target of wall-to-wall demonisation – has been overwhelmed with supplies.

It is great that awareness of the situation has spread far beyond the left. Now the task is to push further with the truth about its causes.

Disgustingly, the right-wing press is now using the refugee crisis as part of a new ‘bomb Syria’ push, claiming that more war will solve the problem. This is like trying to put out a fire with a flamethrower.

War is raging across the Middle East – but it did not simply appear from nowhere. Britain bears a heavy responsibility for the conflicts that millions are now fleeing.

The scale of this crisis is immense. There are over 4 million Syrian refugees altogether, with half the country’s population internally or externally displaced.

The official response is still nowhere near what is needed to save as many lives as possible. Why are refugees being left to make their way to Europe aboard sinking boats, then travel across the continent by whatever method comes to hand, even marching across whole countries? All of Europe should be actively helping them to safety.

The British government too can be pushed further on its commitments to the refugees. Germany has so far taken more than 100,000 Syrian refugees. Britain, by contrast, has only just agreed to take another few thousand.

There are 775 spare rooms in Buckingham Palace for starters – perhaps some of the refugees could stay there.

We should demand that everyone seeking refuge in Europe is allowed to stay. In Germany people are organising welcome parties at train stations – let’s do the same here! Step one is to tear down the fences at Calais and welcome refugees across the border.

Welcome all migrants

One of the battle cries of the movement in support of refugees has been ‘they’re refugees, not migrants’.

This started as a good response to a hostile media ignoring the reasons why people move. But we need to make sure not to create an unnecessary division.

Not everyone who wants to come to Britain will necessarily be fleeing war. Some may be trying to escape poverty. Others will have any number of personal reasons for moving, just like if any of us decided to go and live abroad for a period.

Around 5 million British people are currently resident in other countries, whether to work or retire. Why should it be any harder to move to Britain from another country than it is for British people to live abroad?

We shouldn’t accept any suggestion that there are ‘good migrants and bad migrants’. All migrants should be welcome here.

Left Unity is active in movements and campaigns across the left, working to create an alternative to the main political parties.

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Events and protests from around the movement, and local Left Unity meetings.

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Confronting the Rise of the Far Right, European Conference

Organised by Transform UK.

Bloomsbury Central, 235 Shaftesbury Ave, London WC2H 8EP.

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