Saturday, January 18, 2014

Refugees from Syria - Should the UK do More?

The title to this blog is posted as a question as the UK government currently takes the view that the UK has one of the largest if not the largest percentage of the nation's GNP earmarked for foreign aid including refugees that we should be under no obligation to  take very many  more actual refugees from Syria at this time. The question is of course whether that view is correct.

Certainly there is a letter in one of today's newspapers, the Indie I think  expressing the view that more should be done for example by the "Wealthy Middle Eastern Powers". One could presumably add Russia to that view not least because of the undoubted support given by Russia over the years and currently  for the incumbent Syrian President.

On the other hand  one of the other newspapers  today, The Guardian I think, has an article about a Syrian refugee who came to England via Turkey Greece and France and could even have died enroute when the small boat he was in capsized  in the Mediterranean Sea  just outside EC territorial limits. He having been granted right to stay in the UK is now apparently thriving and attends Manchester University. Crucially the article also points out that the UK has admitted hardly any refugees from Syria and that we are under pressure to do so now. The conclusion I drew is that that newspaper's view is that  we should take in far more Syrian refugees  than we do and that financial generosity (even  when compared with other countries) is on its own insufficient.

Although the Guardian's views are often rather  dissimilar from my own, that one struck a difficult chord. Yes the UK or at least the English part of the UK, is  already very crowded with I believe  Malta being the only EC country with    greater population per square mile. There is also much debate in government and serious newspapers  here, about  reigning in  the national budget by £billions so as to balance the books and cease the heavy borrowing by the UK  from abroad so there is a great temptation to consider that the refugee problem should be dealt with by wealthier and/or less populated nations.

Having carefully reflected on the matter I am now of the opinion that that temptation should be resisted. Simply doing better than some  others might  be said to be doing seems weak. Leadership often involves inspiring others to follow although taking a decisive move may seem burdensome, at least initially.

 Perhaps more significantly  in C21 society and  at least in the UK, less obvious, is  the answer to the question often discussed as child in C20 of "what would Christ have done?" The question is simple and the answer obvious. We should ignore the stance taken by other countries and take the  decision which is best  able to address the tragic plight of innocent  Syrian people.  That should mean trying to accommodate the numbers being requested by the UN and  the like. The refugees need not all be accommodated in London. Many could be offered refuge elsewhere in the  UK. Of course schools and facilities would be stretched perhaps in some instances beyond breaking point. However such refugee immigration to currently less populated areas of the UK could  even if  more by accident than design, result in the UK becoming far less London-centric than is currently the case.

 Let us offer succour and shelter to those in whose need is really desperate now  and think about the consequences later - that in my humble opinion is the answer to the question posed in italics in the paragraph above.

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