A Country of Refuge

By Lucy Popescu

An Anthology of Writing on Asylum Seekers from Britain and Ireland's Finest Voices edited

Monday, 3 August 2015

The refugees of Calais

Thank you to all supporters of A Country of Refuge. The anthology aims to counter just the kind of negative media that is currently so prevalent about 'migrants' in Calais. Many of these supposed 'economic' or 'illegal' migrants are refugees and asylum seekers fleeing war and persecution or attempting to rejoin their families. 

Take Eritera, for instance.

Eritrea gained independence in 1991 and Isaias Afwerki was elected president in April 1993. Afwerki now governs virtually every aspect of Eritrean life. Since he came to power, there have been no further elections, political parties are banned and the independent media is stifled. Human rights violations, including arbitrary arrests and “enforced disappearances”, are considered the product of deliberate government policy.

On 8 June this year the United Nations Commission of Inquiry released its 484-page report into human rights abuses in Eritrea since independence. It concluded that “systemic, widespread and gross human rights violations” may amount to crimes against humanity. The commission found that citizens are subject to constant surveillance and that it is “not law that rules Eritreans but fear.”  Freedom of movement is restricted, with permits required for movement beyond the community where a person works or lives. Thousands attempt to leave Eritrea every year and many end up stranded in perilously unsafe and overcrowded boats in the Mediterrean. The commission underlined that they are fleeing not for economic reasons but to escape persecution, and recommended that the international community should “continue to provide protection to all those who have fled and continue to flee Eritrea and that governments should “end bilateral and other arrangements that jeopardize the lives of those who seek asylum.” *

People fleeing tyranny often have to use irregular means in order to escape and claim asylum in another country. 

According to Alan Travis, writing in the Guardian: “Italy has taken more than 60,000 refugees in the first six months of this year alone. Germany took 175,000 asylum seekers last year. Britain took just 24,000.”

As Marina Lewycka suggests in the Unbound video – “the way we treat migrants isn’t so much about what we want for them but about the sort of people we want to be.”

I want to live in a more humane society.

Please continue to support A Country of Refuge by sharing the link and encouraging friends and colleagues to pledge: https://unbound.co.uk/books/a-country-of-refuge


* Thanks to https://www.hrw.org/news/2015/06/10/eritrea-scathing-un-report

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Emi Slater
 Emi Slater says:

Great post Lucy, it's utterly shocking that no news reportage of the Calais situation is asking why are these people so desperate to flee their own home. As if they would do it unless they really had to. Makes me crazy.
Thank you for this very timely publication and blog post.
Emi Slater

posted 3rd August 2015

Lucy Popescu
 Lucy Popescu says:

Thanks Emi. Lucy

posted 4th August 2015

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