In a fine article in this week’s Tablet Sarah Teather, former LibDem MP and now a director of the Jesuit Refugee Service, asks “Who are they with whom we weep?” and talks about Jo Cox, the murdered MP, who spoke so passionately about refugees.
So who is our sister? Is she a Syrian in a refugee camp in northern Jordan, without the means to travel further – the one the Government would characterise as waiting her turn, in line, to be chosen by us out of millions for a chance of new life? Or is she a young women from Eritrea, who risks everything that her family can scramble together, to flee forced conscription in conditions of slavery, traversing continents and oceans, picking herself up after sexual violence, arriving exhausted but relieved to claim asylum in the UK?
Is she a child in Calais, going hungry without money, at risk of exploitation in order to survive? Or is she a child in London, whom the Government is rendering destitute, cutting off her family’s financial support, their ability to seek shelter with friends who rent, criminalising her parents’ attempts to work, in the hope that they will give up their claim for humanitarian protection and be forced to return home?
Is she a bright pupil in South Sudan, displaced by the ongoing conflict, who wants to be a doctor and who could serve her country if only her school had more teachers trained, motivated and paid to teach her the basics? Or is she the bright asylum seeker displaced by conflict, who longs to serve this country that she calls her own, but who won’t get to university because her immigration status prevents her from doing so?
. . . . . . Jo Cox was one of a number of MPs who pushed the Government to accept some children from places such as Calais . . . They gained no media interest at all . . . Who is our sister? With whom do we weep? And what then do we owe her? This week we wept at the murder of a mother we recognised as a daughter and a sister.
We are blessed to have people like Sarah and Jo who speak for those with no voices.
God bless them,