Tag Archive for refugees

A call for perspective on the Calais crisis

It is a curious thing when someone of a centre-right disposition, with similarly right-of-centre views on immigration, has cause to rail against the right-wing press, writes Drew Smith.

However, speaking as someone whose role of late has been consumed by the migrant crisis in Calais, I have seen first-hand, and been alarmed by, the pervasive ignorance of the situation. The public, it seems, are suffering from something I’ve dubbed ‘Little England Syndrome’.

Don’t get me wrong: until recently I lived in Folkestone, site of the Channel Tunnel entrance, and I’ve been as alarmed as anyone by the ease with which migrants have gained illegal access to the ostensibly secure site. The migrants in Calais have no right to come to the UK; either because they are economic migrants or because, under the Dublin Regulation, those with legitimate asylum claims should have them processed in the first state they reach. For those in Calais this is clearly not the UK (it is less well-known that the majority of refugees entering Britain do so through our airports, often with fake documentation). As such, and in spite of my sympathy for the migrants on a human level, I no more want to see them succeed in their journey than is the prevailing norm.

That said, there seems to be very little appreciation that the bigger picture is one in which the world is struggling with its largest refugee crisis since the Second World War. Never mind the catastrophic scale of the tumult afflicting countries such as Syria, Afghanistan, Eritrea and Iraq, some of which we share varying degrees of responsibility for; the discourse in certain parts of Britain, fuelled by Daily Express headlines such as “Send in army to halt migrant invasion” and “Ebola threat reaching UK shores” is one of pure, unabashed British self-interest. This focus on how ‘they’ will all be stealing our jobs, houses and hospital beds, while frolicking with taxpayer-funded handouts, means the wider realities, facts and tragedy are often sadly overlooked.

The Daily Express’ Leo Mckinstry wrote recently that Britain “could become like Africa” and denounced those “who trumpet immigration” as colluders in “the destruction of our great nation”. Clearly this is ridiculous hyperbole, but if every migrant seeking asylum or a better life in Europe was destined for Britain perhaps I might share his fears. The thing is though, they aren’t. Just because migrants interviewed in Calais describe reaching the UK as “their dream” doesn’t mean that’s indicative of the broader pan-European experience. The downtrodden inhabitants of ‘the Jungle’ in Calais make up a tiny fragment (between 1 and 2%) of the more than 200,000 illegal immigrants who have landed on Greek and Italian beaches this year alone. In spite of this influx, numbers in Calais have remained stubborn at around 4,000. It is clear then that not everyone who makes it to Europe heads straight to Calais, motivated by a shared desire to benefit from our “generous welfare system” as Nigel Farage and some…

It is a curious thing when someone of a centre-right disposition, with similarly right-of-centre views on immigration, has cause to rail against the right-wing press, writes Drew Smith. However, speaking as someone whose role of late has been consumed by the migrant crisis in Calais, I have seen first-hand, and been alarmed by, the pervasive

The refugee boxer dedicating his big fight to Britain

Rising star of British boxing Ajmal "The Dream" Faizy dedicates his big fight - during Refugee Week - "to Britain, the country that offered me protection"

2015′s first-time voters welcome refugees to UK, new poll reveals

First-time voters in the 2015 General Election are standing behind Britain’s commitment to welcoming and protecting refugees, according to new polling carried out by YouGov.

Analyse this: As British as fish and chips?

As events take place across the UK to celebrate Refugee Week, new polling suggests that people value the contribution of migrants, and in particular refugees, with Sigmund Freud being ranked the refugee to have contributed the most to the UK.

Public support asylum for Afghan interpreters

The British public believe that Britain should offer asylum to Afghan interpreters who worked for British troops, according to a new YouGov poll for British Future, writes Sunder Katwala.

“Make practical civic contribution part of the citizenship test”

The Dragons' Den format fringe on immigration and integration backed a practical as well as theoretical citizenship test, but rejected letting the market decide or introducing a faith-preference for persecuted Christians in the asylum process.

Photo: Aliya Mirza

Why do non-white Brits feel that little bit more British?

New research shows a strong sense of minority patriotism. Might it be time to stop being surprised, says Sunder Katwala?

Aliya Mirza

Refugees kick off the Jubilee weekend

British Future hosted a Jubilee street party on Friday as a way of both celebrating the Queen’s Jubilee and acknowledging the contribution that refugees have made to British society during her reign.

Photo: Phil Gyford

Jubilee letter to The Times

As British Future heads off to one of the first Jubilee street parties of the weekend to celebrate with refugees in Brixton today, we have written to The Times in honour of the Queen's Jubilee to acknowledge the contribution that refugees have made to Britain during the Queen's reign.

New report highlights what works in integration

Ever since the Home Secretary announced her plan for the new integration strategy in June 2011, we have been waiting for it to materialise with a mixture of excitement and anxiety, says Zrinka Bralo. Excitement because it might be different and better from those preceding it, and anxiety because of recent government announcements about further immigration restrictions. The rumour in the blogosphere is that a draft integration strategy called ‘Creating the Conditions for Integration’ has been circulating in Whitehall since November 2011. At The Forum, the organisation where I work, we are curious to see what’s in store for the future of integration as this is what we do and we need a constructive environment to be able to keep doing it.