As we experience an apparent sea change in public attitude toward refugees and asylum seekers, people across our city and our communities are rolling up their sleeves asking what they can most usefully do, to support the humanitarian crisis. A crisis that saw over 3,000 people losing their lives trying to cross the Mediterranean last year, and now witnesses thousands more stranded at Europe’s borders pleading for help that is not coming fast enough.
We are living through a humanitarian crisis on a scale not seen in Europe since the Second World War. Stirred into action by a photograph telling the story of one wee boy, Aylan, fleeing war and never making it to safety, people across Scotland, and Europe are now finally paying attention to a crisis that is taking people’s lives everyday.
Fleeing war, persecution or natural disaster, refugees and asylum seekers are all human beings who are right now counting on us, their fellow human beings to recognise them as such, and respond with dignity and care to help them reach safety and a life free from fear.
We are forever being reminded that “genuine refugees” are not the same as economic migrants. Their reasons for moving may be different – but they are all human beings in need of a better life. Whether fleeing poverty and hunger or persecution and war, our compassion should be no different.
Whilst we rally round trying to influence an inadequate response from our UK Government, demanding Britain welcomes a fairer number of refugees; and we do what we can on the ground to alleviate the immediate crisis and need, we must also begin to think longer term.
As well as stepping up and playing our part, collaborating with EU countries to put an effective response plan into action now, and working to avert future crisis, we must also think about how we in Glasgow and throughout Scotland ensure that people who find safety and a resettled life here are treated with dignity and respect.
As our UK government proclaims that Britain is ‘too full’ to help people in need, they are also currently presiding over a new dawn of raids, seeing children and families being forcibly removed from their homes here in Glasgow. An Anti-Raids Network has kicked into action to stop this violation of human rights on our doorstep.
We all know that ‘People make Glasgow’. Let it be known that Glasgow welcomes refugees, and ensure that people reaching our towns and cities are welcomed as members of our Scottish family.
Glasgow Anti-Raids Network can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
[This article was originally published in the print version of The Glasgow South and Eastwood Extra, 10th September 2015]