THE BLOG

The Dover Protests Only Scrape the Surface of the Lack of Empathy Towards Refugees

02/02/2016 17:13 GMT | Updated 02/02/2017 10:12 GMT

When I read about the racial abuse towards asylum seekers in Middlesbrough earlier this month, I hoped that it was a one off that wouldn't be repeated. Then I saw the news that up to 100 masked men had attacked immigrants in Stockholm. The same weekend, violent protests were held in Dover to spread the message that 'Refugees Are Not Welcome' in the UK. The refugee crisis and response from certain media outlets has created unnecessary tension. I can understand why recent events, particularly in Germany and Sweden, have raised some questions about how the situation is dealt with. However, we shouldn't let the completely wrong actions of a few, stop us from helping the majority in need of our support and aid.

We all remember the harrowing photograph of three year old Alan Kurdi from September last year. The photo led to cries of 'Refugees Welcome' from the general public. Yet, less than four months down the line, our empathy seems to have disappeared.

Despite what some newspapers would like us to believe, the refugees aren't coming to the UK to take advantage of our 'easy' benefits system, to exploit our free healthcare or to attack young women. They're coming to flee persecution in their own countries. It's 2016 and people are still dying from the lack of basic supplies of food and water, yet some are suggesting that we turn our backs on them. The United Nations stated recently that some 400,000 people living in Syria are in need of "desperate emergency assistance". To put this into perspective, that is around the same amount as the population of Liverpool. Our willingness to help needs to be shown.

An anti-fascism protest was also held in Dover the same day. It's a shame that the positive protest hasn't been given as much press attention as the shambolic 'Neo-Nazi' parade. Events such as the Dover protests won't be anomalies if more and more Brits are swept along with the online 'anti-immigration' rhetoric. Faux Christian group, Britain First has over one million likes on Facebook and that number keeps on growing. If the media humanized refugees, and showed the conditions that they have left then maybe it would help educate the uninformed about the reasons why they need to come to the UK.

The quote "do unto others as you would have them do to you" comes to mind.

If the shoe was on the other foot, these protesters would quickly swap life in a war torn country, to a place in the EU. In fact, wouldn't we all? We would expect to be treated with respect, so why aren't they being given respect from us?

Refugees are and should be welcome in the UK and other EU countries. They deserve better than this frankly appalling treatment. They're not trying to 'scrounge' from us. They're not just a 'bunch of migrants', like David Cameron said last week. They're people. It's time that they're given the help that they so desperately need.