Refugee Memorial Day

160127, Holocaust Mem Day, TwitterThere are many tweets today on Twitter about its being Holocaust Memorial Day. Nothing wrong with that. There are also included links to other related news items, some about other occasions when large numbers of people died in famines or massacres, or when in the late 1930s Jewish people escaped from Germany only to be refused entry by their hoped for destination countries. All these things and events need to be constantly pondered. We need to keep asking ourselves whether we have learnt any lessons as to our course of behaviour in similar, present, or future crises.

No tweet that I have seen makes any link with the Holocaust or any other of these events and the current situation with refugees fleeing war and terrorism in recent years. The only real link, and an unfortunate one, is the remark dropped by the Prime Minister at Question Time today referring to a “bunch of migrants” about which many have commented. The echoes of Peterloo are frequently heard in the utterances of Conservative politicians.

We should be bitterly ashamed of ourselves*, of our Country and its Government, of the whole of Europe, for our attitude towards these poor people fleeing for their lives, and often dying in the process. Surely by now we know that they have got to be collected up, brought to places of safety, welcomed, reassured, fed and doctored and rested. Never mind about jobs, or houses, this is an emergency and saving lives should be our first and only thought. In the time that this refugee flow has been going on we could in this country alone have erected robust temporary accommodation all over the country, sent ships and railway trains to collect them, and brought them here. As it is we are displaying the “no room at the inn” attitude – not in as many words perhaps – but by our sheer lack of action.

It is easy to sign Holocaust memorial books and be photographed doing it, or to post tweets, which draw attention to yourself in a good light, but to do so while apparently turning your back on the thousands adrift in camps in the Middle East, or on mainland Europe, is hypocrisy of the first order. When the history books come to be written this will be the “holocaust” of the refugees of the first decades of the 21st Century.

* : I include myself in this castigation . . .

About The Author

Born 9 December 1933. Former Royal Air Force person. Retired Church of England Clergyman. Father. Grandfather. Expectant Great Grandfather. Paid up member of the Liberal Democrats. Fervent Remainer.
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