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Debunking the refugee crisis myths

By Mohammed Samaana

Published 24/09/2015

Migrants and refugees wait for buses after crossing the border between Hungary and Austria (AP)
Migrants and refugees wait for buses after crossing the border between Hungary and Austria (AP)

During a conversation with a friend, she said she was worried about the refugees crisis more than the Stormont crisis, as she is terrified of Isis terrorists arriving in Northern Ireland as refugees.

Immediately, two things came to mind. The first was that terrorists travel from here to join Isis in Syria - not the opposite.

The second was that it was not long ago that any Northern Irish person travelling to England was treated as a suspect.

It was wrong then, it is wrong now, and any stereotype will always be wrong.

Xenophobes also use the myth that the UK is crowded. This is wrong. According to the Office for National Statistics , England has a built-on area of only 2.27% - including all buildings, pavements, roads and railways.

In the other three parts of the UK, the figure is under 1%.

Additionally, the total number of Syrian refugees taken by the UK so far stands at 216.

The cliche that immigrants are a burden on the economy can be proved to be baseless. In fact, the opposite is true.

According to the CBI, immigration was important for the economic recovery and allowed UK firms to continue to grow.

I met a Syrian refugee in Belfast, and he was so delighted that he had found a job and did not need to rely on benefits.

Another racist argument used is that homes should be for heroes, not migrants.

While charities related to the Armed Forces rejected donations from racist organisations, the treatment of former personnel by the Government has nothing to do with the refugees.

Cuts to the MoD budget have more to do with the recession and the changing nature of warfare that no longer requires Trident, the expensive nuclear deterrent that will cost £17.5bn-£23.4bn (according to the MoD), or around £100bn (according to the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament).

If saved, this money could be used to improve public services in general.

Historically, more than one million Irish people had to emigrate during the Famine. Therefore, Ireland should be the best-placed European country to understand how desperate these refugees are and the need to welcome them.

Mohammed Samaana is a Belfast-based writer

Belfast Telegraph

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