Over the past 21 years, EMERGENCY has offered life support to the victims of war, landmines, and poverty. Since 1994, we have provided medical and surgical treatment to over 6 million people. This has placed us on the frontline in many countries devastated by war. But as the news of these wars filters out and back home to our morning newspapers or our Facebook news-feeds, it becomes diluted and divorced from reality. The very clear link between conflict overseas and the arrival of refugees and migrants at our borders is blurred. This also means that the role that our country plays in this process is also obscured.
At EMERGENCY UK we believe that it is necessary to state loudly and clearly that more weapons will only lead to more destruction and more poverty, and that today’s refugee crisis, the greatest since the Second World War, is the direct product of the wars fuelled by the arms trade.
Today, at the ExCel centre in London, the world’s largest arms fair, Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI), opens for business.
By hosting the world’s largest arms fair, the UK government plays an active role in perpetuating the vicious cycle of conflict, creating further insecurity and suffering. EMERGENCY UK has supported civil society movements around the country that have called for solidarity with migrants and refugees, and for the adoption of human-centred immigration policies. During the past few weeks we have joined the many voices calling for the protection of those fleeing conflict and for the creation of effective mechanisms to allow asylum seekers and migrants alike to reach their destinations safely and legally.
But these measures alone still won’t solve the problem, as they don’t fix the underlying cause of the mass movement of people: war.
At the start of September, David Cameron told the House of Commons that Britain was a ‘moral nation’ and would live up to its ‘moral responsibility’ on the matter of refugees. At EMERGENCY UK, we strongly believe in spreading a culture of peace and respect for fundamental human rights, and we call upon the Prime Minister to stop encouraging the sale of brutal and barbaric weapons around the world. Welcoming arms dealers whilst stigmatising and failing to properly alleviate the suffering of people fleeing war and extreme poverty is not living up to this nation’s ‘moral responsibility’.