Mrs Lovejoy and the Dubs Amendment

Emotional responses to the Refugee Crisis


The Home Office has pulled out of accepting 3,000 child refugees from France under the Dubs Amendment sparking an outcry reminiscent of Mrs Lovejoy.

Jonathan Freedland penned this typically overwrought piece in the Guardian. There have been numerous emotionally charged but false comparisons to the Kindertransport in 1938. Once again I would urge caution before reaching for the keyboard and making lazy links to Nazi Germany.

In September 1963 (less than three months before his murder) President Kennedy said of the war in Vietnam,”In the final analysis, it is their war. They are the ones who have to win it or lose it.” The war in Syria and the problems facing the wider Middle East are, in the final analysis, the problems of the people who live in the Middle East. The outside world can help but the people of the Middle East have to find some way of living together without war. The sad fact is that there appears little prospect of an outbreak of peace in the Middle East any time soon – the war in Syria seems interminable, the crazed religionists in Tehran still want nuclear weapons and the Saudis are bombing Yemen with impunity.

The Refugee Crisis is linked to the wider problems in the Middle East and must be solved by Middle Easterners. The UK can help mitigate the plight of the refugees but it cannot solve this crisis. The question is then, how can the UK help the refugees?

For a start, realism must outweigh emotion. As far as the plight of unaccompanied refugee children is concerned, we must be particularly careful. For a start, child abandonment is a crime and any unaccompanied child coming to the UK must treated as a victim of crime and become a ward of the state. There must be no right of family reunion. If parents reappear then they must not be given the right to UK residency based on the fact that a child they abandoned is in the UK as a refugee. Any family reunion must be outside the UK. Furthermore, any unaccompanied child refugee that becomes a ward of the state should be sponsored by an organisation that takes the responsibility for the child and acts as an advocate for that child. All such organisations must be secular and any group of far right theocrats masquerading as a charity would be excluded.

And I’m afraid that when we agree to take in children, they must be children. The fact that the Dubs Amendment has been exploited by adults has given the right-wing press a field day. At the moment we appear to be giving people the benefit of the doubt; this must end. Anyone who claims to be a child but looks over eighteen must prove they are a child, the onus of proof must be on them. Hardhearted? Possibly. But the experience of our Swedish friends proves what can happen when people in their thirties are mixed with genuine refugee children.

The UK should also take more vulnerable refugees  directly from UN camps in or near Syria. We should not take those who have managed to reach Calais, sometimes by illegal means. The focus must be on the most vulnerable groups – unaccompanied children, lone women with young children and religious minorities in danger of persecution. By these methods, the UK can uncut the people smugglers’ business and take its share of the genuine and most vulnerable refugees.

A lot of people have written about “international law” and the Refugee Convention of 1951. An interesting read but clearly of its time (the references to rationing give it away). And I wonder how many people have noted Articles 2 and 9 of the Convention.

Article 2 General Obligations: Every refugee has duties to the country in which he finds himself, which require in particular that he conform to its laws and regulations as well as to measures taken for the maintenance of public order.

The host country has numerous obligations towards refugees but the refugees have obligations towards the country that takes them in. Surely, criminal behaviour should result in a loss of refugee status?

Article 9 Provisional Measures: Nothing in this Convention shall prevent a Contracting State, in time of war or other grave and exceptional circumstances, from taking provisionally measures which it considers to be essential to the national security in the case of a particular person, pending a determination by the Contracting State that that person is in fact a refugee and that the continuance of such measures is necessary in his case in the interests of national security.

A country is well within its rights to limit certain refugees to protect itself. There is no unlimited right of refuge in any country.

There is also the”first country of asylum” rule to consider” :-

Applicants who are already offered real protection in a ‘first country of asylum’ and do not provide any proof that they can no longer make use of this protection and are admitted to the territory of that country again do not need international protection.

Anyone in Calais is not a refugee I’m afraid.

These are not difficult things to find out in 2017. People need to stop thinking with their fingers and actually find out a few facts before posting emotional blackmail online. Yes, the UK should help refugees but only those from UN centres close to Syria and those who are the most vulnerable must be at the front of the queue. Screaming “racist” or shouting about Nazi Germany in 140 characters helps no refugees, anywhere, ever.





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