We know full well that the govt. will deliberately squeeze resources to stoke racism and its propaganda wing the BBC will do everything possible to reassure wavering xenophobes that it’s perfectly natural to be scared of foreigners. Alongside welcoming the victims of the neoliberal wars we must all be fighting austerity on the ground. We must make allies of these people not rivals. The refugee crisis and the pathetic squabbling over responsibility for their well-being has made a nonsense of the concept of nation-state.
Originally posted on The Heckler
Given that refugees from Syria are due to start arriving in the UK in the next few days as part of the government’s pledge to accept 20,000 over the next five years – Syrian refugees in new scheme ‘to arrive in UK soon’ – May
– http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-34268604 – we thought it would be useful to re-visit the manifesto of the Independent Working Class Association (IWCA) to see what they had to say about the issue of accommodating refugees. Here it is:
Asylum seekers & immigration
As with official anti-racism, immigration and asylum policy can prove similarly divisive. As a rule political refugees are housed in the most under-funded areas which are duly expected to share out already meager resources with the new arrivals. Across the country, the government is shown to have repeatedly short-changed councils to whom refugees are allocated. The interests, concerns and sensitivities of local communities are also routinely dismissed. Unsurprisingly this can be a source of suspicion, tension and resentment.
The IWCA will fight for:
The allocation of political refugees to areas that can most easily accommodate them.
Consultation with local communities regarding new arrivals.
Appropriate financial compensation from government to local authorities.
Additional government grants to facilitate integration.
Extra housing provision to take account of any extra demands on housing stock.
The safeguarding of tenants’ positions on existing housing lists.
The right to work or study for political refugees while their claims for citizenship are being processed.
The rest of the IWCA manifesto can be seen here – http://www.iwca.info/?page_id=1410 Trust us, it’s well worth reading…
All pretty reasonable as far as we’re concerned. However, we have to bear in mind this was written over ten years ago and we are now in the midst of some heavy duty austerity. Which means that any areas due to accept refugees will have to fight tooth and nail to ensure funding is in place and that they’re not expected to cut into their existing budgets to fulfil their obligations.
We know it’s inevitable that refugees will be parked on the worst estates in ‘hard to let’ properties with minimal support to help them settle and integrate. That is going to cause problems, there’s no point in denying it. What will exacerbate the situation is when residents contact the council with worries about the impact of refugees being parked on their estate with minimal support and find their concerns are dismissed by the council as ‘racism’. There are no prizes for guessing which political tendency is going to benefit from the resentment at having concerns about the impact of refugees dismissed out of hand.
Having a sensible discussion in some left wing and anarchist circles about the impact of settling refugees in areas already under considerable social and economic stress as a result of austerity and a stagnating economy is proving to be difficult. Lisa McKenzie is finding this out to her cost after having written this piece for the Guardian – The refugee crisis will hit the UK’s working class areas hardest – http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/sep/16/refugee-crisis-hit-uk-working-class-powerless
All Lisa has done is to point out the bleeding obvious that settling refugees in areas suffering social and economic stress is going to cause problems if financial and other forms of support are not provided and there’s no consultation with the host community. Dismissing legitimate concerns such as this as ‘racist’ and sweeping them under the carpet as some people in left wing and anarchist circles are trying to do is making a potentially difficult situation for stressed working class neighbourhoods even worse.