Desperate migrants are human beings

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Benedict Bate and Clark Cross (Letters, 20 June) question the legitimacy of Angela Innes’s concern for the refugees fleeing to Europe from Syria and Africa (Letters, 19 June).

It is a common tactic to heap all the moral responsibility onto the individual who speaks out: “If you care so much, you can shoulder the burden.” Promoting the “charity begins at home” argument is also popular.

I have often asked myself how I, and my fellow Scots, would have responded to a situation where defending the rights of those who are perceived as being other than ourselves was officially forbidden.

I refer, of course, to the Jews, and other targeted groups, in Hitler’s Germany.

Would we have spoken out? Reached out to help the victims?

Before rushing to protest that there is absolutely no question of us tolerating such a situation, people should ask themselves whether we really do stand on the moral high ground when the “others” become a perceived inconvenience. Like those desperate refugees fleeing from war and persecution in Syria and Africa.

The views expressed by Messrs Bate and Cross stand in stark contrast to the attitudes of the Italian authorities, who have been overwhelmed by the sheer volume of people arriving on their shores. It’s to their great credit that they, and the local people in the areas involved, are treating them with such humanity.

A similar generosity of spirit towards the almost 4 million Syrian refugees living in Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan and Iraq can be found in local communities, despite the heavy burden placed on them.

To quote Jawan Rafiq Fathullu, the female district mayor of Darashakran in Iraq: “It is not good enough to give a tent and leave them. We must ensure we offer dignity too.”

It’s unbelievable that people are drowning a few miles from land as European leaders argue about what to do with them. I find it quite surreal – like a terrifying nightmare where reality is turned on its head.

Death under the same sun which is toasting carefree tourists. Let’s have a sensible discussion about this dilemma, rather than blaming the victims.

Carolyn Taylor

Wellbank

Broughty Ferry

Benedict Bate and Clark Cross appear wilfully to be missing my original point about desperate migrants: if more of us can help, the burden on the few who do help will be more bearable. Mr Bate describes his experiences of encountering people in need in Edinburgh, as though somehow that means we shouldn’t care about needy people from other parts of the world.

Our social support system is far from perfect, but at least there is a principle in operation.

Mr Cross says these migrants see Britain as “the land flowing with milk, honey, housing and welfare”. Maybe, Mr Cross, they see it as a place of safety, something, one supposes, he’s never had to risk his own life to escape to.

Angela Innes

Dundas Street

Edinburgh