Refugee week aims to deliver a better understanding of Britain’s history of providing sanctuary to people escaping persecution. This week aims to highlight the many different ways in which refugees have positively contributed to our society as well being a huge part of our culture and heritage.
There is much history in Britain which celebrates our diversity. For example in the 1970s a thriving Bangladeshi community had flourished in the Spitalfields East End Area. They brought about a new culture in which Bengali restaurant businesses had prospered. This is including the famous Brick Lane district.
Karl Marx is a famous exile who had lived in Britain. Marx fled from Paris after being expelled as a political threat; as he was not able to move back to Germany or Belgium he moved to London in 1849. Marx’s theories are exemplary and are still used today, contributing to many fields including philosophy, economics, sociology and history. His books, The Communist Manifesto and Das Kapital are still of relevance, and are used across the world in developing critical understandings and theories. Whilst Marx’s contributions to society were intellectual, there are also many other areas in which societies are greatly enhanced by welcoming refugees. Amongst which are cultural benefits, for example the introduction of arts such as music, art, theatre, cuisines and many others along with economic benefits. The Home office has estimated that migrants in the UK contribute 10% more in revenue than they receive in benefits.
Refugees, both past and present, have much to contribute, if provided with the support and opportunity to do so. This not only has benefits for them on individual level, but enriches the society we all live in.
It is important to bear in mind that refugees themselves seek help and come to the UK because they sometimes have no other choice. It is essential to ask why their situation got so bad that they had to leave their countries. People flee from their homes for many reasons, such as civil war, persecution of ethnic minority or religious groups, or women who refuse to follow social norms within their community. The list could be endless. Refugees are entitled to freedom and choices of any other individual. Refugees often flee their home country in fear of their lives, and they should be treated with dignity and respect, where they have the opportunities to build a better future. This is enshrined in international law, in particular Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) which states firstly that everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state and secondly that everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and return to his country.