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Roland Martin - Issue #26

#withrefugees - notes from my HM's assembly this week

Roland Martin

June 28 · Issue #26 · View online
Headmaster - City of London Freemen's school; Chief Officer - City of London - '...write things worth reading, or do things worth the writing' Benjamin Franklin

withrefugees - notes from my HM’s assembly this week

Migrants and Refugees
Before I get started, let me, with the UN’s helpful detail, try to clear this matter up - in case you are in any doubt - refugees or migrants?
UNHCR - UNHCR viewpoint: 'Refugee' or 'migrant' - Which is right?
Photographic Evidence
Photographs have a power that sometimes words lack; during the course of this morning’s assembly, you will see some images that might unsettle you though I make no apology for that. This narrative is one of which we all need to be a part.
This striking image from 23 October 2015 shows refugees and migrants being escorted by police from the village of Rigonce to Brezice refugee camp in Slovenia.
You may recognize it.
It became a central discussion point in last week’s referendum vote when Nigel Farage used it in what for many was an invidious moment in the campaign.
George Osborne – among many others - pointed out that the line that this poster was taking was in keeping with the dangerous rhetoric of the pre-War 1930s. Gove is said to have ‘shuddered’.
If you wanted proof that we have been here before, this letter from 1938,  from The Daily Mail, is worth consideration, not least as we know what happened next.
History and hope
We should perhaps learn the lessons from history when politicians tell us that refugees fleeing war and terror are ‘becoming an outrage’.
This image is not of Syrians, Libyans or Africans in 2015 or 2016; they are Europeans trying to get to North Africa during the last World War. Rowan Wayan Simon shared this picture on Facebook and Twitter recently, with a pertinent comment: ‘next time you think of closing the borders, you might want to check it with your grandparents’.
As we were preparing to vote for the country’s future last week, Monday saw World Refugee Day  launch its #WithRefugees petition to send a message to governments that they must work together and do their fair share for refugees.
The #WithRefugees petition will be delivered to UN headquarters in New York ahead of the UN High Level Meeting on Refugees and Migrants, scheduled for 19 September. 
The petition asks governments to:
• Ensure every refugee child gets an education.
• Ensure every refugee family has somewhere safe to live.
• Ensure every refugee can work or learn new skills to make a positive contribution
to their community. Doesn’t sound unreasonable, does it?
As you know, an increasing number of refugees and migrants have been making the perilous journey across the Mediterranean sea in a desperate attempt to reach Europe. 

Escaping war, violence and persecution, many are making the dangerous crossing in unseaworthy boats and dinghies.
Thousands have died this year already while trying to reach the relative safety of European shores.
The numbers are horrifying, as this piece of video shows.
World Refugee Day: The Mediterranean migrant crisis by numbers
You will have heard a great deal of talk about a perceived immigration problem in recent weeks and months, though you may not have heard as many politicians as you ought reflecting on the fact that over half of the migrants and refugees across the world are children. Children like you, and like younger brothers, sisters and cousins that you may have.
I [mentioned here on this blog last week that I] am proud to have taught Guardian journalist Patrick Kingsley, who has spent the last couple of years travelling to 25 countries reporting on the migration crisis. A video accompanying his writing on 6 May succinctly sums up the plight of children caught up in this human tragedy. I also wrote ‘Whatever our thoughts on Britain’s future in Europe, I hope that we will all remain in a country that has compassion for the hardships that others face…’ 
Much of the hope that I wish rests not with the politicians currently ploughing through personal and financial agendas, party politics and leadership contests but with you [the students in my school and others] who have the prospect of learning from the mistakes of previous generations and a voice to offer.
Unlike this Iranian, whose lips were sewn up to take away his voice, you are in the privileged position of being able to be heard. Whatever you care about, make sure that you are heard and use your own voice for good.
We Stand #WithRefugees 2016 - Please Stand With Us - YouTube
If you still need convincing that students can have something to say about world affairs, I’ll end with this piece from the Santa Sabina Girls’ School, Sydney, Australia. I can only imagine how proud their Principal/Head must be …
We Stand For Refugees - Refugee week 2016 - YouTube
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