Refugee crisis

How to offer a room to a refugee

Michael Gove has announced that members of the public will be able to offer rooms and accommodation to named refugees through a government portal – Homes for Ukraine – which was launched on Monday. Gove said that he was confident there would be no shortage of people coming forward, although he gave a somewhat roundabout answer as to whether he himself would be hosting a refugee. The British public, however, appear to be very open to becoming hosts, with one in three saying they would offer a room, according to a poll conducted by The Observer. When Gove launched the scheme in the House of Commons yesterday, Lisa Nandy was quick

Refugees in film: a cinematic guide

The tragic ongoing events in Ukraine have highlighted the plight of refugees, with over 2m people (mainly women and children) fleeing the country since Russia invaded on 24 February 2022. Sadly, refugee crises have been occurring since the dawn of what may ironically be called ‘civilisation’, most notably the Biblical Exodus from Egypt and Caesar’s conquest of Gaul, which began when the Swiss Helvetii confederation, under pressure of Germanic tribes, sought to cross into Roman territory on their westward journey to safety. Movies concerning refugees range from the past (Exodus: Gods & Kings) to the dystopian future (Children of Men) and are international in scope, including the UK (Limbo), Bosnia and Herzegovina

Not refugees, not children

I was interviewing ten foster parents in west London for a report on children in care. Foster parents are in great demand, so I was startled to discover that only one of the sets of parents was looking after the sort of vulnerable children you imagine to be in the care system. The others were looking after unaccompanied asylum-seeker children. They made an alarming claim: three of these seemed to be adults passing themselves off as boys. ‘The first thing they ask for is a razor,’ said one foster parent, ‘They’ve got these big beards.’ A woman admitted she found it embarrassing having a grown man posing as a 17-year-old.

Refugees deserve better than the Dubs scheme and Theresa May was right to end it

The argument over the recently-abandoned Dubs scheme for refugees encapsulates what is wrong with the debate about what is, perhaps, the worst humanitarian crisis of recent years. The actor David Morrissey was on the Peston show this morning saying he was “devastated” when Theresa May decided to stop plans to take a limited number child refugees from Europe and instead focus on settling 20,000 straight from the Middle East. Except, of course, her policy wasn’t framed in that way on Peston’s show. It never is, anywhere. We have heard the same point, made by well-intentioned people like Morrissey, for weeks. But no one mentions what the Prime Minister proposes instead. To anyone serious about tackling one of the gravest problems

The Spectator Podcast: Aid isn’t working

On this week’s podcast, we consider how refugees could be better aided, whether David Cameron might be envious of George Osborne’s ‘retirement’, and why getting trolled can be good for your career. First, as the government ends the Dubs amendment scheme, we ask whether there are better solutions to the refugee crisis. Paul Collier writes this week’s cover piece, arguing against camps and in favour of getting refugees into jobs, as soon as humanely possible. Paul joins the podcast this week, along with Kevin Watkins CEO of Save the Children. As Paul writes in the magazine: “Refugees nowadays do not have the luxury of a short-term solution. The problems they are fleeing are likely to

Germany remains a prisoner of its past

In 1942, a man called Manfred Alexander turned up, unannounced, on my grandfather’s doorstep in Berlin. My grandfather knew him only slightly. He hadn’t seen him for several years. Like countless Jews, Manfred had been herded onto an eastbound train the year before, bound for God knows where. He’d ended up in a Concentration Camp in Minsk, run by the Ukrainian SS. There, after a terrible winter, a German guard whom he hardly knew hid him beneath the coal in the tender of a steam train which was carrying wounded German soldiers back to Berlin. Back in Berlin, cold and hungry, Manfred headed straight for my grandfather’s apartment on Grolmanstrasse.

So Yvette Cooper, where are your refugees?

Yesterday the Home Office won its appeal against a landmark ruling that allowed four Syrian refugees living in the main camp in Calais to come to the UK. While the refugees will be allowed to stay, the appeal means that it will be difficult for more refugees to come to Britain this way in the future. Following the decision Yvette Cooper labelled Theresa May ‘a disgrace’. The Labour politician says she is appalled that May pursued this appeal and called on her to do more to help Syrian refugees. However, Mr S couldn’t help but think back to Cooper’s own promises when it comes to refugees. Last year, she was one of a number

Listen: Nick Ferrari asks a squirming Yvette Cooper if she has taken Syrian refugees into her home

Last year a host of celebrities and politicians alike slammed the government for their handling of the refugee crisis. As part of this, several figures including Sir Bob Geldof, Stan Collymore, Nicola Sturgeon and Yvette Cooper volunteered to take refugees into their home. Alas, when Mr S checked last year both Geldof and Collymore were yet to go ahead with their pledge. So, what about Cooper? Back in September, the Labour MP said she would be happy to take a refugee in her own home: ‘If that’s what it took and that’s what was needed, then of course, I think lots of people would be.’ However, when Nick Ferrari attempted to quiz Cooper about

Spectator most-read: Trump’s defeat, life in the Royal Navy and ‘racist’ Oxford

The Spectator’s fifth most-read article of the week was Nigel Farndale on what life was like on board a warship in our ‘much reduced’ Royal Navy. Nigel joined the crew of HMS Bulwark in the Mediterranean where he found a Royal Navy undergoing an identity crisis amidst swingeing cuts. Our fourth most-read piece was Damian Thompson on the furore surrounding the last-minute decision to pull an incendiary book about the Church of England. Publisher Bloomsbury sent a panicky message to reviewers asking them to return their copies of ‘That Was The Church That Was: How the Church of England Lost the English People’. You can read Damian’s article about why

EU officials find that most of the ‘refugees’ are not refugees. What a mess

Even EU officials are now finally admitting that a lot – or, rather, most – of the people we have been calling ‘refugees’ are not refugees. They are economic migrants with no more right to be called European citizens than anybody else in the world. Even Frans Timmermans, Vice President of the European Commission, made this point this week. In his accounting, at least 60pc of the people who are here are economic migrants who should not be here –  are from North African states such as Morocco and Tunisia. As he told Dutch television:- “These are people that you can assume have no reason to apply for refugee status.” Swedish officials are

Stay or leave, Europe is sinking anyway

[audioplayer src=”″ title=”Isabel Hardman, James Forsyth and Fraser Nelson discuss whether the European project is in grave danger – regardless of Brexit happening or not” startat=1420] Listen [/audioplayer]As Tory ministers wrestle with their consciences before the EU referendum, an intriguing new argument for voting to stay has emerged. Rather conveniently, it resolves the conflict between principle and personal loyalty to David Cameron that several members of the Cabinet are wrestling with. It goes like this: the European Union is going to collapse in the next ten to 15 years. So, you can vote for Britain to stay in, safe in the knowledge that the EU will be gone within a

Taharrush Gamea: has a new form of sexual harassment arrived in Europe?

The Swedish and German authorities say they have never encountered anything like it: groups of men encircling then molesting women in large public gatherings. It happened in Cologne and Stockholm, but is it really unprecedented? Ivar Arpi argues in the new Spectator that it may well be connected to a phenomenon called ‘taharrush gamea’, a form of group harassment previously seen in Egypt. So what is taharrush gamea, and should Western police be worried? Here’s what we know. ‘Taharrush’ means sexual harassment – it’s a relatively modern word, which political scholar As’ad Abukhalil says dates back to at least the 1950s. ‘Gamea’ just means ‘collective’. Taharrush gamea came to attention in Egypt in 2005, when

So governments can control the weather, but not our borders?

Niall Ferguson wrote a piece recently comparing Europe’s situation to that of the Roman Empire during its late, decadent, sexual pervert days: Here is how Edward Gibbon described the Goths’ sack of Rome in August 410AD: “ … In the hour of savage licence, when every ­passion was inflamed, and every restraint was removed … a cruel slaughter was made of the ­Romans; and … the streets of the city were filled with dead bodies … Whenever the Barbarians were provoked by opposition, they ­extended the promiscuous massacre to the feeble, the innocent, and the helpless…”. Now, does that not describe the scenes we witnessed in Paris on Friday night?

So Bob Geldof, where are your refugees?

After photos emerged of three-year-old Syrian Aylan Kurdi’s body being washed up on a Turkish beach, the British public hit out at the government for failing to do enough to help with the current refugee crisis. Although the government has so far spent £900 million helping refugees who have fled Syria, many were outraged that more refugees were not being allowed into Britain. In fact, to help the cause a number of high-profile figures — including Sir Bob Geldof and Stan Collymore — said that they would happily take refugees into their home to aid efforts. What’s more, thanks to schemes such as Room for Refugees their heartfelt pledges could now actually be realised.

The shocking rise of anti-refugee attacks in Sweden

Sweden, perhaps the most open country in the world, is on course to take almost 200,000 asylum seekers this year. Adjust for population size and that’s like the UK taking a refugee city the size of Birmingham. It can’t cope. Yet political refusal to admit this is incubating concern – sending voters towards the anti-immigrant Sweden Democrat parties. But most shockingly, a trend is emerging of attacks on immigrants. I look at this in my Daily Telegraph column today. [datawrapper chart=””] Sweden’s government and opposition parties both dislike talking about immigration; they are too quick to dismiss concerns as xenophobia. In so doing, they hand voters on a plate to the Sweden Democrats – a party denounced

Benedict Cumberbatch defends his ‘f— the politicians’ rant

After Benedict Cumberbatch indulged in a foul-mouthed rant about the government’s response to the refugee crisis, he was criticised by several figures — including Boris Johnson — for using the theatre as a platform for his political views. In fact, the incident even left Mr S asking: is Benedict Cumberbatch the new Russell Brand? Judging by comments he made today after collecting his CBE, the actor could well succeed the retired-revolutionary. When reporters outside the palace put to the Sherlock actor that he may regret his comments — which included the line ‘f— the politicians’, Cumberbatch said actually it was quite the contrary: ‘Have you been to the theatre recently? How many times? Have you

Is Benedict Cumberbatch the new Russell Brand?

With Russell Brand no longer an active revolutionary, having officially retired from politics after failing to make an impact on the general election, there’s a vacancy for a new celebrity champion of fashionable political causes. Thankfully Benedict Cumberbatch appears to be doing his best to fit the bill. The Sherlock actor made the news last week after he ranted on-stage about the government’s response to the refugee crisis following a performance of Hamlet at the Barbican. According to the Daily Mail, Cumberbatch let it be known that he thought the government’s pledge to take 20,000 refugees was not enough, before — eloquently — concluding: ‘f— the politicians’. As Boris Johnson points out in the Telegraph, Cumberbatch appeared to be

The EU is sucking up to Turkey to help reduce migration – but it could seriously backfire

You might have thought, mightn’t you, that a million arrivals in a year to a single European country, Germany – well, more than 800,000 and counting – would be enough to be going on with, wouldn’t you? After that, you wouldn’t actually be going out of your way to solicit more incomers into Europe in the long term, even if you were going to be sensible about the influx and were admitting refugees on a purely temporary basis until they could safely return home? But that’s not how the EU works. Turkey at present hosts about two million refugees, mostly from Syria.  EU governments would obviously prefer them not all

Charity now begins at your second home

Mitres off to the Archbishop of Canterbury for inviting ‘a family or two’ of refugees into his home. Well, not specifically into his home but into a four-bedroom cottage that sits in the grounds of Lambeth Palace. Opening up your second home to refugees is becoming quite fashionable among people who have more houses than they have hats or, indeed, mitres. Bob Geldof has offered refugees use of his Kent home as well as his London flat. The Pope has instructed that Vatican lodgings should be made available to a few families. This refugee crisis is proving easier to solve than we first thought. By my quick calculation, that’s possibly up

Merkel’s response to the refugee crisis has made the situation worse

Having, effectively, unilaterally ripped up the EU agreement on how to handle refugees, Germany is now desperately trying to re-impose the rules. At the start of this month, Angela Merkel’s government declared that any Syrian who could reach the country could claim asylum in Germany. This was contrary to the Dublin Convention of 1990 which set out that refugees should seek asylum in the first EU member state that they arrive in. Predictably, Germany’s actions led to a huge surge in the number of refugees trying to reach the country. The volume of people coming is now so great that Berlin has had to put in place controls on the