How not to resettle refugees – lessons from the struggles of the Vietnamese boat people
Article first appeared in The Conversation.
Reports surfaced in July that a refugee living on the island of Bute off the West coast of Scotland had described her new home as “where people come to die”. Although it is early days for the UK’s Syrian Vulnerable Person Resettlement Scheme, these initial signs of alienation are troubling.
The two Syrian families quoted in the Daily Mail, who are reportedly struggling in Bute, hardly represent most refugees in the UK. Aside from the fact that the quote may have been lost in translation, Argyll and Bute council stressed that many families have settled in well.
We have been here before. In 1979, Margaret Thatcher grudgingly agreed that the UK would accept 10,000 Vietnamese refugees following global media attention about their plight. Last summer, equally traumatic images of Syrians escaping their war-torn homeland on rickety crafts prompted David Cameron’s pledge to resettle 20,000 people by 2020.