the use of language in the media in the portrayal of the refugee crisis
A migrant is not a refugee and a refugee is not a migrant. Common conflation of these terms is both damaging to the protection of refugees and detrimental to debate. Lawyers Against Poverty supports the proper protection of the rights of refugees and is committed to challenging counterproductive and erroneous discourse that hinder progress in this area through the creation of a hostile anti-refugee atmosphere.
A refugee is a person fleeing armed conflict or persecution. A refugee is a person who ups and leaves his or her home, (often) at the drop of a hat. A refugee does not make this choice; the refugee’s choice is already made.
A migrant leaves home for pastures new, (often but not always) in search of a better life. A migrant makes a choice.
The discourse in the British media prejudices refugees who merely seek protection from their fellow human beings. The interchangeable nature of the terms ‘migrant’ and ‘refugee’ is an all too common error in British media which has significant ramifications. Immigration is and always will be a contentious political minefield. As a result the incorrectly labelled ‘migrant crisis’ automatically drags refugees into a battle which is not their own. The laws governing refugees and migrants are different and their dangerous media-made affiliation is engendering a situation in which our human connection with those in the most desperate of situations is visibly diminishing. The British media and we, the readers, are guilty of allowing this dogmatic discourse to perforate our society to the point that people are not outraged when the government rejects proposals to house the 3000 refugee children who live without their basic needs. This is the result of passive conflation of distinct and damaging terminology.
It is also important to remember that refugees are human beings too. Take away nationality, ethnicity or skin colour and what do you have? A human being. A human being with needs, dreams and desires – just like you or I.
The world’s jaw dropped when the desperately sad story of Aylan Kurdi emerged in the media – a young Syrian refugee washed up dead on the shores of Turkey and all of a sudden humanity returned. The innocence of human instinct overpowered the marring of refugees’ very nature. It is this humanity that we must harbour and remember. Refugees are human beings fleeing for their lives because they have no choice.
Junior Lawyers Against Poverty invites you to take an active role in challenging the discourse. We invite you to let us know about your experiences of this problem. Have you read articles, listened to radio interviews, heard announcements or seen any misuse of terminology surrounding refugees that you deem dangerous and detrimental? We want to hear from you. Together we can challenge the dogmatic discourse that is hurting refugees and their protection in the United Kingdom and beyond.