Hackney Stand up to Racism’s Christmas fundraiser is again dedicated to supporting Care for Calais. Again Sustainable Hackney is glad to support this initiative, but not on the other hand glad our support is offered in very much worsened circumstances.
This year that infamous term ‘hostile environment’ attributed to Theresa May has been reinvented and given a new twist by Priti Patel, the Home Secretary who owes her position to the sanctuary her family received fleeing the regime of Idi Amin. Racism seems now to be this government’s and the EU’s default response to migration. It’s easy to lose count of how many refugees have tragically perished in the Mediterranean, the number of vessels detained in ports to prevent humanitarian rescue missions, the new government tenders going out to construct inflatable protective walls and the new immigration detention centres, like Warehouse K popping up in places like neighbouring Newham to fast track deportations via City airport.
One mostly overlooked aspect of migration is the climate and ecological crisis. A new landmark UN ruling now makes it unlawful for governments to return people to countries where their lives might be directly threatened by the climate crisis. This at least provides an opening for further legal protections but the current iteration rather suggests a dichotomy of deserving and underserving asylum seekers. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jan/20/climate-refugees-cant... It is, however, the case that the climate and ecological crisis often lies behind forced migration in ways that are indirect and not immediately obvious and quantifiable.
While climate change is impacting in Britain and northern Europe with rising average temperatures, increased rain, more floods, and the normalization of once freak weather events our experiences nevertheless pale by comparison with those of millions in the global south living often in already hostile environments now and facing harsher conditions in the future. The call for climate justice recognizes a great inequity: that those regions that contributed the least to climate change are likely to suffer the most. While there’s a debt to repay, it is only repression that is being handed out. The crisis of our ecosystem is generally a barely visible factor behind self-exile but collapsing agriculture can accelerate rural migration, put strains on urban resources and sharpen social conflict and lead to repression and political violence.
So it’s mad, bad and disingenuous then when our government, which while acknowledging climate change, constructs a ‘hostile environment’ for those often fleeing another different one. Rather than a reception that honours a debt based on colonialism or climate injustice many of those who have lived in the UK since childhood or came to Britain recently seeking exile have recorded how they could not comprehend how the mother country could act in this way or that the sanctuary they expected could prove almost worse than the tyrannies they fled. This is an intolerable situation. Care for Calais is helping refuges. Let’s help Care for Calais
Hackney Stand up to Racism leaflet + collection sheet > HSUTR 2020 Fundraiser.pdf
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