In a recent interview with a 13-year-old refugee from Afghanistan, Lily Allen apologised on behalf of the UK for our part in the refugee crisis in Calais. Unsurprisingly, there has been a considerable backlash online.
Critics argued that Allen should not be apologising on behalf of an entire nation. The point of emphasis of this piece is not to argue whether it was wrong for Allen to apologise or not, but rather to tackle the reason why Allen apologised in the first place.
More importantly to the central theme, coupled with the criticism of Allen, critics have also argued that it isn’t our problem, that we already do enough, that British tax payers shouldn’t have to foot the bill, and that France and mainland Europe should be doing more.
Maybe Allen was a bit forward. It doesn’t personally bother me, but then again, I don’t have a fundamentally weak argument for not helping refugees.
Let’s get some perspective. The millions of Iraqi, Afghani and Syrian refugees are not on holiday. They are not travelling across Europe for the shits and giggles. These are displaced humans, escaping war-torn countries. They are seeking asylum and safety from the atrocities and horrors of war and extremism. These are people running for their lives from countries, that might I add, have been on the receiving end of British bombing campaigns.
This is our problem. We are all humans. We are all people that deserve basic freedoms and rights. This is not about birth-right or entitlement. I was born British by a matter of chance, and I just as easily could have been born into poverty, or a war-torn state.
As for the argument that other European countries should be doing more to help dissipate the situation in Calais. Over the last few years, France has accepted a far larger number of refugees than the UK. That’s not to mention Germany, which has done far more than the UK has in the recent refugee crisis. In 2015, Germany accepted over a million refugees and is expected to have accepted a further 300,000 by the end of 2016. That’s figure alone is more than double the amount currently in the UK.
Even if other countries were doing nothing at all, that does not mean that it is okay for us to do nothing either. As bold is it might be to apologise on behalf of a whole nation, Allen is right about one thing, it is morally wrong to hold our hands up and do nothing. We are partly responsible for the situation in Calais and to stand idly by is to be complicit to it.
Lily Allen may have overstepped the mark in some people’s evaluation, but whether or not she was being ego-centric or self-important is beside the point. There is but one reason needed to do more in support of refugees all over Europe, and that simple reason? Because we can.