Helen Martin: Lunatics taking over the asylum

IF I was being persecuted, bombed, at risk of torture and death and witnessing members of my family being 'disappeared' (which is apparently a verb nowadays) in my own country, and I was given sanctuary in another country with a house to live in, three meals a day and clothing, would I complain if that house had a red door? No.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 1st February 2016, 12:19 pm
Updated Monday, 1st February 2016, 12:22 pm
Are activists fuelling rows between asylum seekers and resident communities? File picture: AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris
Are activists fuelling rows between asylum seekers and resident communities? File picture: AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris

If I was stateless, perhaps unable to speak the language, waiting for my asylum application to be processed and without documentation, would I complain if I was given a red rubber wrist band to identify me as someone eligible to access services? No.

And if I was one of millions hoping to be resettled in various towns and communities all over Europe at a time of financial austerity, job shortages, and terrorist alert, wouldn’t I realise that some locals might not roll out the welcome mat, might resent me being given a home before them and might even call me names? Of course I would – however wrong all that is, it would happen anywhere in the world today. We only need to look at Trump’s Republican supporters to know that, by comparison, the UK is paradise!

My aims would be safety, freedom from the horrors I had fled, fitting in, observing the customs of my new land, and being an ambassador for other refugees who might follow.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

And any UK “do-gooders” who are making a big deal of the “injustices” of a door painted red (like mine in Edinburgh) or a rubber wrist band (probably now the most common statement accessory in the Western world) should realise it is THEY who are fuelling rows between the newcomers and the resident community.

The local French state prosecutor says British activists are working in Calais egging migrants on to confront police and engage in riots and violence on the basis that it will somehow help them get into the UK.

Europe’s passport-free travel zone is to be suspended because countries cannot cope with undocumented migrants. No-one yet knows how many of their asylum claims will be successful or how many will face deportation. According to Europol, Islamic State has already set up training camps in Europe and is targeting refugees, especially those who already have criminal records or a history of psychiatric illness, to radicalise them, the aim being to conduct “special forces-style” attacks on Western nations.

This is, quite literally, an un-Holy mess. Those who call for Britain and Europe to put compassion above caution and brotherhood above 
borders to admit all migrants, are not helping genuine refugees in the slightest. And they are certainly not working towards happy and successful integration.

The most constructive suggestion I heard in the past week came from a refugee being interviewed on television saying he wanted more information. He said: “We need to be taught what is considered acceptable here and what is not, we need to know the rules, and what people here like and do not like, what we should do and not do.”

That’s the voice of an honest man, seeking refuge and wanting to do his best, a genuine refugee who recognises his own obligations in a new land. The do-gooders would baulk at compulsory classes.