Extend the hand of kindness to refugees

This Is Wiltshire: Chippenham MP Duncan Hames Chippenham MP Duncan Hames

There’s been much debate among politicians about whether or not we should intervene and help displaced families in Syria.

For me, there’s no debate to be had – we should be extending the hand of kindness. We only have to look back at the Second World War to see how saving even just a few people can have an impact which filters down through generations. Think of the efforts of the French Resistance and of individuals like Oskar Schindler.

Shortly we’ll be remembering 100 years since the start of the First World War – anyone who’s ever visited Ypres in Belgium will know how grateful those people still are for the intervention of the British Armed Forces a century ago. At 8pm every day they honour the terrible sacrifice made by thousands of soldiers worldwide.

These discussions around Syria come at a time when there is much uneducated debate around the whole issue of immigration generally. I’ve found it interesting that one minute we can be talking about restricting entry into the UK for people who are allegedly taking our jobs, claiming our benefits and using up our health resources, and the next we seem to be allowing the same issue to leak into a huge humanitarian crisis which is of catastrophic proportions.

However, it shouldn’t go unnoticed that politicians in Wiltshire have been speaking up on this matter. In a debate in the House of Commons in January, two of the county’s MPs, Duncan Hames and James Gray, had their say.

They were addressing their comments to the Secretary of State for International Development, Justine Greening, when MPs were asking the UK government to help and take in refugees from Syria.

Chippenham’s MP Duncan Hames asked: “At the very least at the talks in Geneva, will the Government press all parties to the Syrian conflict to end the use or targeting of schools or health facilities?” The Minister’s response was: “We certainly will, and we have been pressing for access.”

The most heartfelt plea came from North Wiltshire MP James Gray.

He said: “Surely we can find a place in our hearts for just a small number of these terribly tortured and disaffected Syrian children.”

He was told: “I can reassure him that the UK is playing a leading role in the area of broad humanitarian support…”

Events have now moved on and some families will be offered refuge here. I can’t help feeling that some politicians need to look to the past for the answer about whether or not it’s worth helping thousands of families.

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