Why does Cecil the lion matter more than refugees?

Access to the Calais tunnel has been restricted as refugees from nearby camps on the French side attempt to cross it into Britain seeking a better life. Yet these people, human beings with souls, are being referred to as ‘migrants’ who are coming to Britain because it’s an “incredible place to live”.

Terminology is one of the most important and crucial aspects to fighting a crisis. Yes, people flocking to Europe are a crisis, but it is not a crisis for Europe as much as it is a crisis for humanity. First and foremost, it is not a migrant crisis, and these people are not animals to be referred to as a “swarm”, as David Cameron did earlier this week. It is a sad word used in an attempt to dehumanize the situation.

Unlike Cecil the lion, the Sudanese refugee who lost his life while attempting to cross the Calais tunnel doesn’t have a name

Yara al-Wazir

I wish people would be as upset about the refugee crisis as they are about Cecil the Lion. Although David Cameron’s comments attempted to dehumanize the refugees, unfortunately they do not seem to carry the same caliber as Cecil the Lion. Cecil was a popular attraction at the Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe who was shot dead earlier in July by an American dentist. The world has reacted, social media erupted with support, and the United States has even launched an investigation into its death.

Unlike Cecil the lion, the Sudanese refugee who lost his life while attempting to cross the Calais tunnel doesn’t have a name, a face, or the empathy of the public. In fact, he brings the death toll of those killed trying to cross the tunnel to nine since last June. Yet the rhetoric feels as if any possible investigation into their death would be an investigation of how they made it to the tunnel, rather than why they weren’t saved.

While I do agree that the £7 million pledged to increase security at the Calais tunnel is necessary, it must not be used as a hunting tool for human beings trying to make a better life for themselves.

The Calais tunnel migrant crisis makes one wonder how desperate an adult must be to risk their life and all they have, leave everything they know behind, and attempt to do the improbable and try to cross into a foreign country. The truth is that I hope that I am never in a situation where my desperation is tested.

Refugees have courage that politicians can only dream of having: the courage to risk everything they ever had for an opportunity to work hard and build a new life for themselves on their own.

What other options do refugees have? Would it be better if they sought opportunities within their home nations and fought with the extremists? I’m sure no European country would like that.

David Cameron, yes, Britain is a great place to live. Let the refugees see for themselves.


Yara al Wazir is a humanitarian activist. She is the founder of The Green Initiative ME and a developing partner of Sharek Stories. She can be followed and contacted on twitter @YaraWazir

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:45 - GMT 06:45
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