Thursday, 10 September 2015

On the Topic of Refugees

To all my friends, I would like to ask you a question. 13 years ago, my family made the choice to move (migrate) here to Ireland from the UK. We are essentially immigrants. We fled no war, no religious persecution. We were not in fear of our lives. We CHOSE to move here. By the thinking of some things I've read lately, my family should not have been entitled to the financial support, education and healthcare we have received since moving here. Would you have us leave 'your country' even though we have done no wrong? Have we any more right to stay than those fleeing horrific situations abroad? Surely we have less of a right? Is it because we have the same colour skin as you and speak the same language as you that we are allowed to stay? Is it because our differences are less obvious? Would you stop your children from playing with ours because their parents aren't from here?

It is no secret that the Irish government are corrupt; that funding for healthcare, education, social housing and public services needs to be improved drastically. I completely agree that the Irish government have failed in their obligations to the common people. People are homeless where there is more than enough housing available. People are dying when there is no need. Situations are being created which are entirely unnecessary and could be avoided. All because there are TD's out there who would rather ignore the problems their people are faced with every day than help and find solutions. Should we do the same? As citizens of the world, should we turn our heads and dismiss the crises going on in the world as 'someone else's problem'? We (and our government) don't just have a social obligation here in this country, we have a global social obligation too.

It is easy to tar everyone with the same brush. However, the fact is, more crimes have been committed in the name of Christianity than any other religion. This includes Islam. This is easily forgotten about though. While I am not at all naive enough to think that there aren't refugees out there who ally themselves with ISIS or similar terrorist/fundamental religious organisations, I do think it is unfair to generalise with this assumption. In the same way, but of course to a lesser and more trivial extent, the Irish hate the generalisation and stereotype forced upon them that they are all heavily drinking, ginger leprechauns.

I'm also not stupid enough to think that there aren't people who are profitting from this situation. The smugglers who are charging these poor people thousands of euro to transport them on dangerously overcrowded, unsafe dinghy's. Migrants who are using these methods to enter countries when they are safe in their own. That's another argument for another time. The plain fact is, that the vast majority of these displaced people are just searching for safety. They didn't ask for this and sometimes, that's easy to forget. Civilians are just that. They aren't soldiers or politicians. They're just normal people like we are, who have been forced to leave their lives behind and try and find a new life somewhere else.

You were born here in Ireland by chance. You didn't choose it. You're just lucky. While we work hard for what we have, we have a better place to start than a lot of people in the world. You would think that with Ireland's own turbulent history of conflict and unneccessary heartbreak, this nation would be more sympathetic to these people's problems. While Irish people have had to endure difficulties of their own, oftentimes in the name of religion, they have not had to flee devastating war, natural disaster or famine. That is except from between 1845 and 1855, when 2.1 million Irish REFUGEES had to do just that. Would you have had the USA,Canada etc. turn those Irish people away then, because the famine 'wasn't their problem?'

Many of my friends are parents. I know for a fact that if we ever found ourselves in the same situation that these people are finding themselves in today, we'd do whatever we could to ensure our children could grow up somewhere safe, without fear. Even if that meant leaving our home country in search of a new place to call home. And we would hope that we would be offered that sanctuary somewhere without resistance or suspicion.

My views may seem idealistic and naive to you, I don't mind. I believe there is enough room on this planet for everyone. We are all entitled to a home. As John Green says, "We are ONE species, sharing one, profoundly, interconnected world, and humans, ALL humans, are our people."