Refugees Not Migrants (or Human-beings not Labels*)

When another's border is opaque,
windows blocked with the coagulated death
of hopeful escapees,

reinforcing our borders 
is a reinforcement of that death.

When political concern prioritises 
the comfort of British holiday-makers
over the survival and humanity of an other,

we commit atrocities.

But we want, need our distractions,
excuses to turn our heads
so Cameron, please don't mention refugees. 

When he speaks of 'illegal migrants'
to refer to people who 
face death at home 
and are cleaved from their soil,
face death on their own borders 
and burrow beneath detection,
face death on the Mediterranean 
praying to stay buoyant through squalls and over sharks,
face imprisonment in Europe
and attempt to assimilate as they climb north,
face death in the dysentery of the glass-ceiling-camp of Calais
and wait and wait not allowed to move forward or turn back,

he knows he speaks of refugees
and he lies.

When Cameron's solutions, 
Britain's solutions
are building fences,
strengthening borders,
stopping people attaining
the essentials for survival,

our fences and legislation
are a reinforcement 
of the death from which they flee,
and these are atrocities as well.

And when he has the nerve to use
this suffering for spin,
and  speaks of 'illegal migrants'
coming to the UK because it's a 'great country',
he speaks of refugees fleeing death.
He knows it 
and he lies 
to you.

And if we accept the lies,
we commit atrocities too.

Written 30th July 2015 in response to the so called 'migrant crisis' in Calais, and David Cameron's recent statements. This poem had been brewing in me for sometime, and Cameron's widely accepted rationalisation for an outlandishly inhumane response to suffering made it burst out of me. Formerly called 'Refugees and the lie of the Migrant Crisis.' 

*Addition from March 2016. After reading a George Szirtes Facebook post commenting on a news video about the atrocious and criminal mistreatment of refugees by the authorities (in this case the Turkish coastguard), I felt burdened to add something to the title of this poem. George Szirtes comment on the video was simply 'Human Beings not labels'. A more poignant and meaningful comment than 'refugees not migrants'. Yes that distinction is important. But a  more pressing problem is dehumanisation of these suffering human beings and any label can be used to dehumanise, when it replaces the personal reality. The people suffering in Syria and the boarder of Macedonia, drowning and shivering on the Mediterranean, trying to survive and keep hope in Calais are human beings not labels!


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