The news that has emerged in recent hours relating to the use of a site of military barracks in Folkstone to house 400 people is not something that should be of concern to most people. The site is after all a set of barracks and was built and is designed to house people on that sort of basis. The fact that the people being housed in Napier are not part of our military agencies may seem initially unusual but given that they are asylum seekers who are seeking UK residency because they have been forced out of their own homes and nations due to war and other violence or abuse makes sense. Sadly some people are using this case to try to raise responses and it has to be appreciated that certain political commentators including some very high profile extreme commentators have made claims about the people crossing the Channel in recent months. As I have written before, although more people have been crossing the channel this year, than in previous years, the reality is that our nation has very few asylum seekers compared to a significant number of other nations and there are reasons why the numbers fleeing to the UK have had to divert from other routes due to COVID-19. According to this piece of news “About 400 people will be housed at Napier Barracks in Folkestone as the Government struggles to find beds for large numbers of migrants arriving on small boats.” It goes on to state that around about 7,000 people have crossed the channel this year which is about 4 times the national average, but each year around about 36,000 people come to the UK and so it is only a small part of the bigger picture. The only way to reduce the asylum seeking that is taking place across the world is for our Government to work with other Governments to stop wars taking place. Indeed my blog on Monday will focus on the need called by all three of our Sussex MP’s Political Parties to end the war in Yemen which is one of the places that asylum seekers come from. It is currently pressurising many people to consider escaping from their nation due to the war that is taking place now. On Thursday Tim Loughton spoke in the House of Commons stating
To deal with the political and military situation first, 2020 marks five years of a devastating conflict in Yemen and almost 10 years of chaos since the Arab spring in that country. Yemen desperately needs an effective and lasting ceasefire. Out of a total population of some 30 million, 24 million people rely wholly or partly on aid, and they desperately need protection now.
One of the reasons why this war is taking place is that our weapons that we have sold and continue to sell have been used by Saudi Arabia. Indeed something all of us could do is sign one of these two petitions that call for an end to this. The fact is that in the meantime we need to give support to the people who are trying to organise accommodation for asylum seekers. One of these people is a friend of mine called Nick who is the Prevent and Channel strategic manager for Kent County Council who yesterday according to this piece of news explained to people in a meeting
We have all identified this afternoon, and we do understand, that asylum seekers are vulnerable people, and I personally find it continually frustrating to see the derogatory and hateful comments which are placed on social media. It’s important for us all to understand that far right influencers from areas outside of Folkestone and our local community are continually attempting to influence the views of you and our local community by placing comments on social media that are clearly prejudicial, biased and contain misinformation.
It is clear that one thing we can all do is try to prevent the social media anger and instead begin to applaud the hard work of people like Nick and David Monk who is the leader of Folkestone and Hythe District Council who said at the close of the meeting
We are a tolerant society, the people of Folkestone are nice people and I am sure it will work out all right in the end.
I am very grateful to Nick and David and indeed the many other people who are working hard to deal with these issues. It is good to be aware that our nation is currently the 11th largest nation when it comes to refugees and asylum seekers and these come from nations such as Iran, Iraq, Pakistan and Albania along with many others including Yemen. Last year we had over 37,000 people coming to our nation which is a relatively small number compared to the size of our nation and we need to be more generous with our land, particularly as many of the refugees make serious gains to our nation.