REFUGEES: Sad that fear can prevail

We welcome GL Hopper’s contribution to the pressing subject of displaced people (Northumberland Gazette, October 1).

It is important to continue to debate this issue, but there are a couple of points we wish to clarify and challenge.

When we referred to displaced people as “people like us” in our letter of September 17, we meant exactly that – they have the same hopes and fears, the same emotions and character traits. They are individuals like us, unique, but alike. It does not help to demonise them or see them as different.

GL Hopper questions why people are displaced. An aid worker with Mercy Corps in Greece said: “People are leaving mostly because of violence and war, but also due to fear of persecution.

“They bring an attitude of hope. They want to reach a destination where they and their families can be safe, where they can put their skills and experience to work. We see many middle-class Syrians, especially youth, who want to contribute. They want to finish their studies, pursue further education, or start work as they did back in Syria. We see a lot of professionals, dentists, teachers and doctors. These refugees are trained and they can contribute.”

What an inspirational group. Yes, within any group of people there will be some, a very small percentage, who do not wish to make a positive contribution, or worse. Do we ignore the genuine needs of many for fear of the few?

GL Hopper’s concern about those involved in “ethnic cleansing” are addressed in the 1951 UN Refugee Convention. We not only expect refugees to be assessed, but also those offering accommodation. We condemn all violence by or against any religious or other group or individual.

Our criticism of the Government is that, like many of its predecessors, it is slow to act, would rather demonstrate toughness than inspire compassion, and is contrary to the mood of many people. We also think that for ministers to use language like ‘swarm’ and ‘marauding’ is a disgrace.

It seems to us that displaced people travel in hope, but are received in fear. A sad commentary.

Ros and Geoff Hoskin,

The Old Butchers Shop,