Hull to Calais: Doing our bit for refugees

cal1It was a deep privilege to be the first from the Hull group to make it to Calais for the relief of refugees there. I went with the chair of the group, Maud, and a car packed to the gunwales with sleeping bags, tents, warm clothes, shoes, coats, and so on, all donated by people in Hull and area particularly in the light of the Syria crisis. The Syrian civil war has claimed over 220,000 lives and displaced some 11 million people, nearly half the population.

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The vast majority are in countries neighbouring Syria such as Lebanon and Jordan, Turkey too. One Jordan camp has 80,000 in it. For those with the means and the courage, the countries of Europe are the goal. The camps in Calais are for the most part made up of the men, maybe 90%, and the remaining 10% women and children. Many of the women and children are in camps in Greece we were to learn.

About a third of those who have made it to Calais apply for refugee status in France, Others are determined to make it to Britain but have met even further obstacles despite their perilous journey so far. Cameron’s contribution has been to build even higher fences at enormous expense topped with barbed wire. These people won’t be among the 4000 a year he has pledged to take.

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Here’s the Calais lighthouse. Over to the left is a church where 20 or so Syrian men had made camp and were sheltering in the porch. We asked them if they needed anything and they said no. Maybe the locals have been rallying around. However, the following Monday the police moved them all on, together with another 30 or so in a grassy area near the church, and another 30-ish by a warehouse loading bay – all into the giant “jongle” camp by the motorway.cal4

We delivered to a smaller camp that we found, and with the help of a French family also delivering that day, we handed out everything that we had brought – and went off to get some more with money that the group had raised and we had left to spend!

These men, women and children are as much victims of war as anyone in the conflict. And neither are Britain’s hands clean here either, where we are almost certainly involved in helping the civil war to kick off, and where we have major responsibility in setting the Middle East on fire with the most immoral war so far this century – Iraq.

Someone worked out that the number of Syrians destined for Hull, by ratio, would be about 9 or 16 or so per year. Hull has an ancient history of helping others fleeing war and persecution. We’ll be no different this time and already a good dozen people have offered rooms for refugees. Someone who gains refugee status, technically, is provided for through housing benefit etc. But there remain needy people who fall through the gaps and could end up destitute.

Now we have sent three vans to Calais. All the goods were well received, and the needs remain as great as ever as winter approaches. Meanwhile Syria, Assad, Isis, the refugees, all are political footballs, while major powers like America and Britain, as well as Russia, decide what to do. Not setting fire to countries would be a good start.

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8 thoughts on “Hull to Calais: Doing our bit for refugees

  1. Footballs ? I think they’ve been doing quite a bit of dribbling and shooting themselves. Isn’t the west more like a kit sponsor and coach in one of a long string of grudge matches between Sunni United and Shia Wanderers ?

    • If we’re talking about who started it, we should cut to the chase and blame America. If you look up wikileaks on Roebuck you’ll find the Ambassador outlined how to get Syria to blow up, before any civil war kicked off. It’s harder to blame it for Isil but the fingerprints are still there – we can’t talk of Saudi, Bahrain or Qatar , arming , training, and funding, without the obvious nod from their chief ally the USA. Putin’s recent remarks on them all being mercenaries of one type or another, are well made. Whether it’s Shia or Sunni is secondary. Isil/Daesh/former AQI (al Qa’ida in Iraq) come out of the Wahabbi sect (hence close ties with Saudi, the top beheading experts). What the BBC call them is irrelevant.

  2. How would the Americans get them to fight each other if they all became atheists ?
    Why let the religious of the hook, why don’t they say “we don’t want to kill our fellow muslims, go away America with your weapons and training cadres?”

    Isn’t the constant warfare a hint that they should maybe grow out of religion ?

  3. Wikipedia says –

    “The name Wahhabism stems from the eighteenth-century preacher and scholar, Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab (1703–1792).[17] Eventually he formed a pact with a local leader Muhammad bin Saud offering political obedience and promising that protection and propagation of the Wahhabi movement would mean “power and glory” and rule of “lands and men.”[20] The movement centers on the principle of tawhid,[21] or the “uniqueness” and “unity” of God.[19] The movement also draws from the teachings of medieval theologian Ibn Taymiyyah and early jurist Ahmad ibn Hanbal.[22]”

    If the Wahhabi/Saud alliance is older than the American constitution, and the restoration of a Caliphate in old sunni lands is an age old desire, how can we put all the blame on America for this ? Shouldn’t the blame for this be shared around a bit more, and Syria should get it’s share too ?

    • Not bad. But the trouble with people building on the standard presentation in Western media is that they’re building on sand.

      Uk intelligence affairs expert, Mark Curtis, says, if you rely on the mainstream media for the presentation of international affairs you’ll get about 5%.

      My reading of this is, just like there was serious Saudi involvement in what became Al Qa’ida in Afghanistan (and as we know CIA involvement too, and almost certainly MI6 for the same reason), there is serious Saudi involvement in IS. Given that Saudi, and other known IS funders Bahrain and Qatar, are all US allies, there is no way the rise of IS has happened without the US nod (at least). Hence their outrage at Russia’s bombing of IS, proper bombing doing it serious damage (unlike America’s half-hearted attempts), as well as other rebel groups in Syria, as Russia, perfectly legally, comes to the rescue of its ally Syria.

      America wants regime change in Syria. It’s got everywhere else (except one). It’s wanted this since 2000, when they published Rebuilding America’s defenses. They’re doing the list of countries where they wanted regime change. Syria is next.

      As long ago as 2006, the US Embassy in Syria was writing on how to destabilise the country. The evidence is that they followed that track. http://www.truth-out.org/progressivepicks/item/33180-wikileaks-reveals-how-the-us-aggressively-pursued-regime-change-in-syria-igniting-a-bloodbath

  4. Why not have an apostates only immigration/refugee policy ? This would reward rationality and penalise the sorts of superstition that lead to conflicts such as the Syrian one.

    After all, although the colonial interventions and manipulations of the middle east are well known, as is current intervention and games playing, the West didn’t invent religious conflict. Even the crusaders were following a Middle East religion transplanted to a pagan land. The crusades were the result of a colonisation of Europe by a Levantine religion.

    Islam is the fastest growing UK religion. Using an apostates only policy we can gradually replace the religious population of the UK with unbelievers, and use it as a bulwark in the fight to liberate mankind from superstition.
    It doesn’t have to be violently Stalinist or Maoist, there are other ways, but equally it isn’t necessary to save the religious from their own folly.

    Putin is overseeing a revival in religious, nationalist chauvanism, Orthodox priests splash holy water on MIG jets.

    “A senior cleric of the Russian Orthodox Church has said his church fully supports Moscow’s plan to render military aid to the Syrian government. He added representatives of other major religions would throw their weight behind the anti-terrorist effort.

    “We have an inter-religious council in Russia and I can say with confidence – the coming statement of this body that unites Orthodox Christians, Muslims, Jews and Buddhists will support our state’s decision. The decision with which our state again assumes a special role in the Middle East and in particular in Syria,”

    He also emphasized that terrorism was the most significant threat humanity is currently facing. “Whatever they are trying to justify terrorism with, it cannot be justified. Thus, any fight against terrorism is moral, we can even call it a holy fight,” Chaplin told reporters.”

    So, given the amount of support Putin has from religion, and the illiberal climate, what interest would he have in supporting any kind of secular insurgency in Syria, rather than prop up a religious minority with an oppressive hereditary leader – much like the West does in Saudi Arabia ?

    Also, consider that military power and irreligious sentiment are closely connected. The science that gives Advanced countries their super weapons has been done in the face of religious opposition. Equally, could Tzarist Russia compete with the West, with illiterate superstitious peasants and an agrarian economy ?

    As a Green politician you have a duty to protect the Earth, this is what distinguishes you from a straight out socialist. Yet you support the peoples of two apocalyptic religions, in all their warring factions, for whom the Earth is ultimately a disposable staging post. Your utopia is an Earthly one, theirs is a heavenly one. You’re fundamentally at odds.

    It has often been said by environmentalists that the problem with Western civilization is that it has an underlying split between man and nature due to the influence of the Judeo-Christian world view. You have over three billion people from that tradition, many of them sitting on the world’s fossil fuel resources, and you have an environmental clock that is ticking.

    You can say that their lack of interest in preserving the Earth would not matter if they weren’t selling oil to the industrialised nations, but they do. It helps them to compete with the other factions of their religion. There is no faction at war in Syria which would seek to curtail the oil industry, or reject economic growth. Is there ? Where is the environmental manifesto of the FSA or the Islamic front ?

    The Syrian war is due in part to the environmental degradation the Syrians have created, by selling their fossil fuels and over exploiting their own water resources.

    If you do remove the influence of the western world and it’s oil industries, you get something like the Taliban.

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