This refugee crisis has become too politicised and inflated by the media


From their arrival to their settlement here in the UK the media have been closely watching the thousands of Syrians who have come seeking asylum in the past few weeks. The topic of the migrant crisis however is not something that is new to the media. In fact, whilst reading various articles there has been discussion on why so much attention has been brought to this matter and why it has started to become a hot potato game.

For starters we know that Mr Cameron has never been careful with his words, especially concerning Syrian asylum seekers. Back in 2015 his Thatcherite statement a ‘swarm of migrants’ became popular in the headlines for his use of language. And now again, David Cameron falls into the clutches of the media by referring to asylum seekers as a ‘Bunch of migrants’, a turn of phrase which prompted strong criticism from various groups. Amongst them, the Refugee Council were appalled at his use of dehumanising and irresponsible language towards Syrian refugees. Political members and the media were quick to jump on this when Labour MP Harriet Harman suggested that it was as if David Cameron was talking about insects rather than people. The Guardian was not far behind in also commenting on this matter, publishing an article on the use of metaphors in the migration debate.

And yet, should we expect anything different from the Conservative leader? Shouldn’t we be used to the way he addresses such individuals by now?

Lately, it hasn’t just been about the number of refugees accepted into this country, it is their settlement and their experiences that have been hot topics. Two major headlines that made the front pages a few weeks ago concerned the hostility that Syrian refugees encountered. It started with red doors; that’s doors that have been painted red by G4S officials in Middlesbrough in houses accommodating asylum seekers. The colour sparked backlash and an investigation into possible racial abuse and verbal harassment. This was then followed by another report published throughout the media, claiming asylum seekers in Cardiff had become easily identifiable to the public because of the wristbands provided by Clearsprings Ready Homes entitling them to three meals a day if they were worn at all times.

Individuals such as Mogdad Abdeen, a human rights activist from Sudan, insists that the wristbands are very discriminatory. He argues that they single out those who are refugees from the rest of the public,  making them feel alienated and as ‘Second-class humans’.

Some may agree with Mr Abdeen’s statement, but other news mediums such as the Telegraph who side a conservative political stance, claim that the wristband method has been highly exaggerated. Instead, it should be seen as a reliable method which not only ensures that a particular person i.e., the refugee is entitled to their meals, but also that no one else takes advantage of these services that have only been provided for asylum seekers. Other methods such as vouchers or cards may not be as efficient because of their tendency to be easily lost or stolen.

Agreeing with the above was an article in the Daily Mail citing Tory MP David Davies who described the issue of the wristbands as a clear exaggeration. According to him, this was by far not the worst thing that these refugees have been through when the majority have experienced war, conflict, persecution and even torture. He compared the wristbands to what he himself must wear when he goes on an all-inclusive beach holiday and is allowed to make use of all the services provided.

From the abundant headlines that this topic has provided, we’re forced to question the extent to which we should react to these small happenings, or see them as major issues for the Syrian refugees.

We should ask ourselves, is it really about the wristbands or the red doors? Or is it more about providing such individuals with a safe place to stay?

Must we continue to scrutinise everything that is being done to help these people? Many of us have been quick to seize the ‘race’ card and make assumptions. The refugee issue has become a hot potato game where the media and politicians keep throwing the blame at each other while withdrawing further from the actual sentiments of the public.

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