Not so long ago, I, along with thousands more, marched across Edinburgh to protest against President Trump’s ban of all Syrian refugees and all visitors, green card holders, and asylum seekers from seven predominantly Muslim countries. I was reassured by the fact that people all over the western world were protesting against Trump’s purposefully offensive and, security-wise, practically useless, executive orders. But on a practical level, we in the UK could do little to change the American President’s decision.
Theresa May, on the other hand, decided to halt the Government’s pledge to take in child refugees from Europe. Amber Rudd’s quiet announcement of this reversal in policy must not go unheard.
Why has our Prime Minister decided at this particularly sensitive time that Britain cannot take in children who are in need of desperate help? Is this the political realisation of what holding Trump’s hand looks like? Or, rather, the daughter of a vicar’s final rebellion against the Christian values she laughably claims to hold?
Over the summer I spent some time working with refugees in northern Greece. Most of my hours in the camp were spent listening to people, whether about their story of crossed continents, the loved ones they were trying find or the most elementary of problems they faced on a daily basis. In this one fairly small camp, hundreds of people reside, camped out in a small space without adequate sanitation or shelter, deprived of their dignity and agency (to say the least). I have been told by volunteers in northern France that the situation is just as bad, if not worse than the traumatic scene I was witness to.
Theresa May’s unnecessary and quite inexplicable decision, it we fail to stop it, will undoubtedly lead to the death and the trafficking of hundreds of vulnerable children. To deny this is simply to look the other way. For those who have lived or worked with refugees, and for all those who have heard the horrific stories from Calais, this decision represents an act of pure cruelty.
If British people feel angry about Trump they should channel it to a cause which can make a tangible difference. This is such a cause. If people feel angry at the erosion of British values, or feel guilty when they contrast our response to the refugee crisis today to that of the British people in the 1930s who took in 10,000 Jewish children, then don’t remain passively critical. Sign this citizens UK petition, start organising, start volunteering, write letters to your local councillors and MPs.
This is not the time to ignore May’s appeasement to Trump and abandonment of the last signs of human empathy. We must do all we can to stop the dismissal of the dubs amendment.
If you are interested in helping children refugees get in contact with Citizens UK’s incredible ‘Safe Passage’ Scheme. Another incredible organisation is Help Refugees who work in the UK, France, Greece, and across the Middle East. If you are interested in focusing your support for female refugees who are often the most vulnerable, get in contact with Women for Refugee Women. If you want to campaign against forced detention in the UK get in contact with Detention Action.
Image: Amirah Breen