The refugees are in crisis, and need help. Our fellow human beings are fleeing their homes in the hope of escaping a  humanitarian crisis. Inside Syria, families are struggling to survive due to the effects of the civil war, others are compromising their lives by travelling to Europe in hope of building a better future.

Refugee: a person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster.

Crisis: a time of intense difficulty or danger.

When put together these two definitions sit side by side. It is important to remember that:

“To be called a refugee is the opposite of an insult; it is a badge of strength, courage, and victory.”

People don’t travel across the sea, putting their lives in danger, without good reason. It is because they have no where else to go. People don’t leave their homes, their country, their life, just because they want to. It is because they are desperate and have no other choice. 

Making the decision to leave your life behind is one of the hardest things any human being has to do. It is therefore our responsibility and obligation to ensure that each refugee is welcomed with open arms and shown support, love and respect. 

It is important to remember that these people aren’t here to cause disruption. They simply want to live. After all, the most natural human instinct is to survive. Surely, we can help these people in their time of need?

At the end of the day, we are all human. We each have a heart, for love and compassion. A brain, for conscious thought. And bones, for movement and growth.

Each one of us, knows what pain is like. But going through pain alone, is even worse. Solidarity is crucial when situations like these arise, we must stand up against bigotry and intolerance through challenging racist attitudes that have haunted our country for centuries.

The recent flooding that has swept across the UK has damaged many homes and caused great turmoil within communities. Many refugees recognised this, and have helped build flood defences in an act of camaraderie with those who have offered them the hand of friendship. Their blind impulse was to help, which I hope makes those with racist attitudes, squirm in their seats. 

Refugees helping fill sandbags in Rochdale (29th December, 2015)

Those who have given sanctuary to the refugees, are the people of our future, who recognise that we can no longer live in the past. If society continues to have time for racist individuals, who blame the country’s problems on refugees and immigrants, then it is saying very little about humanity.

Let us remember that Jewish people, when in search of sanctuary from Nazi Germany, were turned away due to immigration quotas from countries such as the US and Britain. If there had been a willingness to open their borders to more people then many innocent lives would have been saved. This puts the current humanitarian crisis into perspective, refusing people entry in times of hardship is unjustifiable.

George Santayana’s words, as inscribed on a plaque at the Auschwitz concentration camp, are very relevant today,  “The one who does not remember history is bound to live through it again.” 

That leaves me with one final question. What will it take for people to learn the lessons of the past?