In 2014 there were 1,861 separated children seeking asylum in the UK.
Hardly a swarm! Not a record to be proud of either.
I have become increasingly concerned about the plight of people seeking a place of safety in recent times. Many are children, some only babies in arms. I have asked myself, What would I do in this situation? The same as my great grandparents, I hope.
|My grandparents with my Dad aged seven and his sister, in Paris for my grandmother's brother, Louis', wedding in 1928. In 1942 Louis was deported from Paris and murdered in Auschwitz.|
|Grandma's school Atlas, Lyon 1908|
With modern 24 hours news coverage, newspapers published every day, constant updating of media on the net, there is no excuse for ignorance. We can all weigh up the information and form an opinion about migration and the need to seek a place of safety.
The world is on the move, similar to when the Jewish communities of Poland and Russia were forced out by terror in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and came to the UK and America, contributing enormously to life where ever they went. Were the Jewish migrants unusual? Were they more honest, hard-working, clever than current migrants? Well, let's look at the evidence.
One piece has stood out for me since the riots and looting of August 2011. London looked as though it was burning and young people were at the heart of the terror. But let's look again at who did not riot.
David Lammy, MP for Tottenham, has pointed out that 20,000 young people in his constituency did not riot. Neither did young people from some of the other communities such as the Chinese and Bangladeshi communities.
But neither were the rioters and looters asylum-seeking children.
I am not going to quote evidence I don't have to hand about hard-working immigrants and how their children settle down in our schools and do well. But everything I read in the media suggests this is true in the UK and around the world. Certainly I have seen enough first-hand evidence as a teacher in London schools for twenty-five years and then on author visits to schools.
|Children of Bangladeshi families, East End school, 2013.|
But that is not a reason to raise higher the barbed wire.
The UK needs to take its place alongside all the countries of the EU and around the world to try and ease the plight of those fleeing their homes and radically improve our miserable asylum figures. Those are the statistics I want to see on the news.
We cannot change the situation on the ground in Syria, for example, but can we really continue to close our eyes to children and adults clambering off rubber dinghies onto Greek beaches and pretend they will just disappear?
|Teenage asylum seeker reading a piece he has written about leaving his home and family. Most asylum seekers never see their families and their homes again and suffer terrible homesickness for years.|