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The Migrant Crossings: Crisis? What crisis?


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Over Christmas, news broke of mutiple crossings of migrants across the English Channel. Surprise, surprise the press, politicians and leading organisations went into an embarrassing panic. Home Secretary Sajid Javid in the immediate aftemath declared it a "major incident", while various news outlets have branded it the "migrant crisis".

Since Novemeber 220 people have attempted to cross the English Channel to enter Britain. Now, is that a crisis? Compare that to the numbers elsewhere in Europe, such as Italy or isles in Greece where in the first three months of 2018, 16,600 refugees and migrants crossed the Mediterranean Sea from North Africa and Turkey. It begs the question; 'Crisis? What Crisis?'

In today's Britain there is usage of an all too familar rhetoric. Apparently the country is being 'swarmed by immigrants' and 'we need to take back control of our borders', themes which were key characteristics of the Vote Leave campaign. I am not saying it defined the Leave vote, but you cannot deny that weaponised rhetoric and fear mongering played a key role in the eventual outcome of the referendum itself.

This rhetoric has not gone away, and you can't go a few days without seeing some biggotted, borderline racist headline across the media. This similar rhetoric has reappeared following the news of migrants crossing the Channel by boat. But why is it neccessary to resort to this? Is it to fuel patriotism?

I mean what are we even patriotic towards? I have nothing against people who are patriotic. I am not saying I do not have pride in Britain as a nation, having lived here all my life - but having loyalty to a land because someone called it Britain? I can't help but find it slightly amusing.

What even is it to be British? If you look through the history books we are an immigrant nation, and if you were to trace your geneology you would not be 100% English, that is for sure. This is why I find the rhetoric used by certain newspapers and news outlets as laughable, to the same extent as entitling the crossings as a 'crisis' - because they are most definitely not. 

Image Credit: Geralt // Pixabay

Let's delve in to some facts and figures. Cast your minds back to 2015, when the UK Border Force stopped 30,000 attempts to enter the country by sea. An estimated around 6,000 may have successfully got through, which equates to around 16.4 a day. Since November 2018 there has been an average of 6.8 people per day. I do not recall as much of a fuss being made by the Home Secretary back then.

What is being ignored is that the current numbers of asylum seekers are still at a low. The highest year on record for asylum applications was 2002, where 84,132 people applied. Now compare this to 2016 where only 30,747 people applied for asylum - it's a staggering decrease, of 50,000 people in 14 years.

Admittedly asylum applications have been on the rise since 2010, where they hit a record low of 32,733, but let's not forget in the years since there as been various levels of war particularly across the Middle East as well as other parts of the world.

This further begs the question of whether the attempts of 220 people since November to cross the channel really qualifies as a 'crisis'. Lets not forget that this is the same government which agreed by 2020 to resettle 20,000 vulnerable refugees. Are the ones trying to cross the channel not vulnerable? 

Britain is in a fragile state as a nation, I accept this. However, I think Sajid Javid's handling of the situation has been a bit of a joke. His rhetoric has been shameful, and the measures he has implemented seem a bit on the extreme side. Surely there are more effective alternatives to prevent the crossings, rather than moving two border force vessels which are better off being left to aid Greek authorities in the mediterranean. I personally, see him as man trying to capitalise politically, attempting to further his political career and achieving the end goal of Prime Minister. I believe this has a lot to do with the rhetoric he has used since the migrant crossings first came to light. Let's not forget these crossings have been occuring since November, so why choose late December to take action? 

The way the crossings have been portrayed has been disgraceful. Can I see the media changing any time soon? No. Can I see politicians changing their rhetoric any time soon? Again, no. Reaction and responses like this definitely do not make me feel proud to be British. How any one can feel pride really beats me. 

Lead Image Credit: Geralt Pixabay

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