How Britain helped create this refugee crisis

From New Internationalist Easier English Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search

How Britain helped create this refugee crisis

By John Hilary


Freedom House under a Creative Commons Licence

I was on the Eurostar, not moving, near Calais with 2,000 people on Tuesday night. Everyone in Europe suddenly knew about the refugee crisis.

The media said that people on the train were angry and wanted to break the windows. But the people in my part of the train were quiet for all the 5 hours. We were in the dark outside the tunnel, waiting.

Many people were with their children. The parents explained why they had to wait to get home. They all explained that they had a small problem, waiting on the train, but the refugees outside the train had a much bigger, desperate problem.

And now it’s very good to see that this basic human compassion is the main feeling in Britain.

Many people said David Cameron was wrong at first. He has now changed his mind. But it is important to see how terrible the official British reaction has been compared to other countries in Europe.

But not many people see that Britain has more responsibility to refugees escaping from the growing conflict in the Middle East. This is because many British governments have caused it.

The crisis that made 4 million people escape the fighting in Syria, and 10 million leave their homes in Iraq, is a direct result of Britain’s interventions in that area in the last 15 years.

After the occupation of Iraq, there was more local resistance, and the coalition authorities tried to turn the Iraqi people against each another.

Islamic State then took control in the chaos, and then moved into Syria when that country had big problems. Islamic State coming in made the family of Alan Kurdi leave as refugees from Kobane. This made him lose his life and killed so many others.

Islamic State now has thousands of trained fighters, and jihadist forces from West Africa to Indonesia have promised to support them.

Our strategists created this crisis. And it is getting worse. Now it has started, the West has no power to stop it.

But this was not a surprise. The CIA said at the beginning that the plans for Iraq would cause worse problems than when the West supported the anti-Soviet resistance in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

The Arab mujahideen won against the Soviet occupation. Then they started fighting in Egypt and Algeria, where tens of thousands died in the ‘dirty war’ between Islamist and state forces.

Al-Qaeda’s 9/11 attacks on the USA, and the bombings after that in Madrid and London, were also part of this.

And it is not just Iraq and Syria where British intervention has caused a humanitarian crisis. UK and US aircraft started bombing Libya on 19 March 2011, 8 years after the first bombing of Iraq.

Now Libya also has a terrible civil war, and many refugees from Libya are escaping to Europe.

Palestinians are still one of the largest refugee populations in the world. The Israeli state stops them going back to their homes - and does not even agree that they exist.

But the British government is still giving political and military support to Israel’s ethnic cleansing in Palestine. Next week David Cameron will welcome Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister to London, as if there were no problems.

We have a big responsibility to give a home to refugees escaping war. War on Want is proud to be one of the organizations supporting the Refugees Welcome Here rally in London and other cities on 12 September.

But we have a bigger responsibility to the refugees who are escaping conflict situations that our own government caused.

We have a responsibility to give them a safe home. But, more important, we must stop Britain – like an emperor - trying to control the lives of people in the Middle East, or anywhere else in the world.

This is the only thing that this will help solve the refugee crisis now and in the future.

John Hilary is Executive Director at War on Want.

NOW READ THE ORIGINAL: (This article has been simplified so the words, text structure and quotes may have been changed).