By now many of you will have seen the images of a boat tipped over with its hull in the air.
Designed for fishing it had been repurposed by smugglers to deliver an altogether different cargo. Hundreds of people fleeing war, violence and hunger, and seeking a better life somewhere else.
This week was not the first time we will such gruesome scenes, nor will it be the last. The world has faced many humanitarian crises in recent decades – many of which happen far from our shores, and all too many of which are forgotten or ignored by media and politicians (although, it must be said, not by our movement). Yet this time a refugee crisis is happening on our continent, near our homes.
And the question cannot simply be “what must be done”? Instead we should ask “what can we do”?
We must fight for a debate on refugees that reflects the enormity of the situation, rather than pandering to the undercurrents of racist rhetoric that many will seek to employ.
We must pressure politicians into compassionate and sustainable solutions for displaced persons – not just when their lives are at risk in the Mediterranean, but wherever they are in the world.
But we must also take practical, immediate steps to help those in need today.
That’s why UNISON is supporting the Calais Convoy Saturday 18 June to demonstrate not only UNISONs solidarity with refugees – but also providing vital donations of clothing, food and other supplies to the 4,500 refugees stranded in makeshift camps there. To support and fight for those who have travelled across a continent or more in just the clothes on their backs, across dangerous seas and through hostile countries to try and make a new and safe life for themselves.
Please do give whatever support you can. Because in different circumstances it could be any of us – any of our families – stood far from home and unable to go back.
You can find out more about UNISON and the Calais convoy here.