We have a moral duty to welcome people fleeing to Europe

Embed from Getty ImagesI’m catching up on telly. Last night I watched the first episode of Simon Reeve’s Greece series. It was a corker. You can see it on BBC iPlayer for a further 6 days.

I’m quite a fan of Simon Reeve. He’s evolved from being a sort of back-packing TV reporter into an intelligent and compassionate observer of the world. His programmes are part-light travelogue, part-incisive documentary.

What made his first Greece show so good was his visit to Lesvos. We’ve all seen the news clips of refugees/asylum seekers/economic migrants coming ashore there. But Reeve’s film was different. You got a bit longer to watch one particular boat gradually bobbing along in the water, then coming ashore. Then we see Simon Reeve talking to some of the passengers. The result was very powerful. The film emphasized the vulnerable nature of the boats – so low in the water – and their precarious voyage across such a vast piece of water, for a charge of $1000 per person. Poor old Reevesy broke down in tears as he talked to a Syrian family who came ashore. One man had nothing but the clothes he stood in and a mobile phone. Extraodinarily, there were no officials or police on the shore as the boats came ashore. The refugees/asylum seekers/economic migrants simply came ashore, dumped their lifebelts and started walking to the nearest town to catch a ferry to Athens. And we saw the remarkable juxtaposition of a tourist town on the island – tourists enjoying the tavernas alongside migrants walking with exhaustion to the ferry quay.


It all emphasized to me that the migrant crisis is something we must respond generously to. It’s a moral issue. There is no room for being mealy-mouthed. Europe must club together to welcome these people.


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