Saturday, July 20Royal Holloway's offical student publication, est. 1986

Refugees in Crisis

Imagine the country you know as your home being so unsafe and war-torn that you are only left with one choice; to leave everything you know behind and seek asylum in a country that is safer but so far away. Imagine that you manage to survive the dangerous journey across the ocean. You hope to find a better way of life for you and your family.

Imagine you arrive at the shores of the UK, only to be met with hatred and hostility.

This is the reality of so many asylum seekers coming to the UK. The media in the UK has villainized the people who travel so far to get to the safety of our land. The headlines we are so used to have instilled a sense of hostility towards these people. The reality of the situation is that they have every right to look to us for help. The UK is a signatory of the 1951 Refugee Convention, which means that they have agreed not to return any refugee to their home country where their life and freedom is under threat. So, when asylum seekers come to our country it is their right to claim sanctuary. For us to turn them away or send them across the channel is to deny them their basic human rights.

Unfortunately, the British public is very susceptible to the words of the mass media, so much so that there are active hate groups that exist to stop these asylum seekers from entering their towns and villages. Recently, a village close to my rural West Wales home, called Penally, has become a temporary migrant camp for nearly 250 male refugees of whom the majority are from Iran or Iraq. As a rural part of the UK, the community here often leads very sheltered lives where the majority of the population is white. However this being said, Penally welcomes almost double its population of tourists to the small village during the summer months, without any backlash or problems. Whereas the proposed arrival of these migrants caused quite a commotion, drawing over 200 protesters to the army barracks in which the migrant camp was to be set up.

In 2020, there has been a vast increase in the amount of people crossing the English Channel in tiny boats, leading to similar negative reactions of this West Wales town, who view migrants entering the country as a threat. This harmful mindset is further aided by actions such as the former Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sajid David, who publicly questioned the authenticity of the people in these boats.

The media needs to do more to de-vilify the identity of these people, as they rely on us, our communities, and our families to help them rebuild their own lives as they know it. These vulnerable individuals do not come to our shores looking to ‘take our jobs’, or to invade our lives. They are just people much less fortunate than us, with no other option than to look to others for help and safety when they have nothing left themselves.