Ev­ery­one needs hope and hu­man­ity

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - OPINION - with Erica Neustadt of Change4Chal­font

If you were around in the 80s, you might re­call the film Let­ter to Bresh­nev. It’s the type of movie for which we seem to have a ta­lent; gritty, hu­mor­ous, full of con­tem­po­rary so­cial com­ment. I first saw it with my par­ents in a dingy Wat­ford cinema. Sit­ting in the gloom, watch­ing the open­ing scene, where the Rus­sian ship nudges its way through a grey dawn to the Liver­pool docks, my fa­ther whis­pered to me, ‘That was my first view of Eng­land too’.

I was so struck by this that I have never for­got­ten, and it still re­minds me that on one side of my her­itage, my roots lie shal­low in English soil and that my fore­bears lived in a dis­tant, hos­tile home­land.

Maybe this is why I am so af­fected by what I see across the wa­ter in Calais, Dunkirk, Samos and else­where; no, not the surge of refugees out of the Mid­dle East and across our con­ti­nent, al­though I am mas­sively con­cerned about this too, but more the prac­ti­cal re­fusal of most gov­ern­ments to deal with peo­ple with nowhere to be­long, with noth­ing but what they can carry; who are not be­ing met with any state­spon­sored hu­man­ity.

There are of course many in­di­vid­u­als who are des­per­ate to help, and who do so much.

But whilst vol­un­teers can pro­vide food, do­na­tions and all sorts of prac­ti­cal aid, they can­not fa­cil­i­tate the nec­es­sary end point, namely, any struc­tured, con­trolled way out of these mod­ern day ghet­toes. It is not, for the vast ma­jor­ity of refugees, eco­nomic mi­gra­tion. Many were ob­vi­ously en­gaged in their home coun­tries’ economies, and had no rea­son to move, whilst those coun­tries were func­tion­ing.

But when you know that young men must ei­ther fight for some side or other or be ran­domly ex­e­cuted, that ISIL has pub­lished a manifesto that girls are con­sid­ered sex­u­ally ma­ture from the age of nine and may be used ac­cord­ingly, well, I too would pick up my chil­dren and run. Who wouldn’t?

If you crowd des­per­ate peo­ple to­gether in par­lous con­di­tions, if you of­fer them no hope or hu­man­ity, if you won’t al­low them any foothold or fu­ture, why should they, longer term, be good, law-abid­ing cit­i­zens?

US prison camps in Iraq be­came net­work­ing bases for dis­af­fected young men, some of whom went on to join vi­o­lent or­gan­i­sa­tions. We should be care­ful not to repli­cate this dy­namic in the heart of Europe.

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