Of­fer refugee fam­i­lies a haven

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - OPINION -

I am a hard work­ing pro­fes­sional and mother and I take pride in con­tribut­ing to my com­mu­nity.

I also hap­pen to be an “eco­nomic mi­grant”, hav­ing left Greece and come to the UK in 1995 to study law and then hav­ing met my hus­band at Bar School.

I es­tab­lished my ca­reer here, we got mar­ried, started a fam­ily and the rest is history!

Cru­cially for the con­text in which I am writ­ing, I am the grand-daugh­ter of some brave, re­source­ful and, let’s face it, bloody lucky peo­ple who es­caped per­se­cu­tion in Asia Mi­nor against the odds and made it safely to Greek shores in the af­ter­math of the First World War in 1922, and built a life for them­selves and sub­se­quently their chil­dren from noth­ing. it was a tough life, but they did not com­plain.

They were the ones that made it.

The sto­ries from that time, of the burn­ing streets and the dead bod­ies float­ing in the sea, sound like a Grimm fairy tale when you lis­ten to them from the safety of a cosy home at a time of peace.

My grand­par­ents’ chil­dren, my fa­ther and his sib­lings, learned that, un­less they worked hard, noth­ing would come their way.

So they worked and they worked, and they pro­vided the foun­da­tions for their chil­dren, my gen­er­a­tion, to flour­ish.

My cousin group num­bers teach­ers, doc­tors, den­tists and IT pro­fes­sion­als. I am In-House Coun­sel for a nearby Lo­cal Au­thor­ity. We are chang­ing the world.

Be­cause of my fam­ily’s history and my own life’s path, I am al­ways so up­set about some of the rhetoric around mi­gra­tion, par­tic­u­larly in cases such as the refugees from Syria.

Peo­ple in the UK are very lucky that they haven’t ex­pe­ri­enced the hor­rific vi­o­lence and de­bil­i­tat­ing fear of per­se­cu­tion, the dark ab­sence of hope or the re­al­i­sa­tion that stay­ing be­hind is more dan­ger­ous than at­tempt­ing to cross the sea.

I don’t know of any­body who would not choose, in such cir­cum­stances, to do any­thing they can to pro­vide a chance of a safe fu­ture for their chil­dren.

And yet the mass psy­che of the pop­u­la­tion has a gut dis­like and sus­pi­cion of these peo­ple, and there­fore the media and politi­cians feel that they must fol­low suit. It takes a lit­tle boy drown­ing on the shores of Tur­key for the peo­ple of the world to no­tice.

I ap­pre­ci­ate that the refugee cri­sis has many facets and there isn’t a sim­ple one-sided so­lu­tion (which is all the more rea­son to co-op­er­ate with other Euro­pean coun­tries in find­ing sus­tain­able holis­tic so­lu­tions, but that’s another story).

I am glad that Mr Cameron is now agree­ing to ac­cept refugees from the camps. I am how­ever moved to write to im­plore ev­ery­one to use this im­pe­tus to do all we can as in­di­vid­u­als to al­le­vi­ate the refugees’ hard­ship (the Guardian has re­cently pub­lished an ar­ti­cle on what in­di­vid­u­als can do) and to ex­ert any pres­sure we can in our ca­pac­ity as vot­ers in lo­cal and na­tional elec­tions to make sure that the UK steps up and of­fers sanc­tu­ary to the refugees ar­riv­ing in Europe (the cam­paign group 38de­grees has a pe­ti­tion that links to con­tact­ing the Coun­cil etc).

Of­fer­ing to take 50 fam­i­lies lo­cally in our coun­cil area would re­ally help.

We are a dis­trict rich in re­sources and hu­man­ity com­pared to much of the world, this is the time to put both to good use.

XE­NIA MANASSI-STARKEY

Milton Fields Chal­font St Giles

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