This Shabbat we read from Deuteronomy / Devarim the section called Shoftim. This week we say the words from that text “Justice, justice, you shall pursue” (צדק צדק תרדף). Today this photo was taken as refugees try to enter the EU. It has moved me as I am sure it moves you. Desperate refugees fleeing from wartorn areas. Children on their parents shoulders. These people were tear-gassed for wanting to come into the EU.
It can’t be left to only bankrupt Greece or troubled Spain and Italy to integrate these refugees. Surely, we can do more more… Surely we should do more. I know times are tough but nothing compared to these guys… I don’t mean to preach. I just want that these people have some hope, some escape from misery not caused by them, some future and some justice. We are all humans… Justice, justice, you shall pursue…
Current death toll at Calais since June: 12 Current residents at Calais camp: 3000
Among reports of deaths these have emerged:
24th July: A young Eritrean woman hit by a car about 5:30 on the A16. People at the scene reported that she was gassed in the face by the police before she was hit
23rd July: A teenager was found dead in the English part of the Eurotunnel at Folkestone
19th July: Houmed Moussa, an Eritrean teenager of 17, drowned on the site of Eurotunnel
4th July: Samir, an Eritrean baby died one hour after birth. Her mother, twenty years old, fell from the truck triggering a premature delivery at twenty-two weeks.
The much maligned Hungarian Government has taken in far more refugees and so has Germany than the UK. The Mediterranean bloc of EU countries are bankrupt and barely coping with new arrivals but still they give refuge.
The UK and French Governments’ policy is in tatters. You don’t just walk from Eritrea or Syria risking your life at sea and at the hands of traffickers to then turn back at Calais. There must be a more humane way to deal with this crisis.
The Governments response to this is not to deny that those waiting at the Port of Calais are not refugees but to shut our doors on them. Why can’t we process them there or here? Some will go on about cost but we have just converted an airport into a lorry stacking facility at the cost of £10,000s per day (of taxpayers money). Call me insane but frankly would love to give refugees refuge and get them working and contributing to taxes than ploughing money into a failed scheme.
Britain does have a great record of giving asylum and refuge. We value fair play, respect, tolerance and have promoted humanitarian causes throughout the world.
This is not a party political issue but a human one. I am not calling for open borders or no controls: I am calling for justice. Whatever way it is argued this seems cruel, unjust and unBritish… And yes, we bear responsibility too.