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Blogpost: Should refugees come to Harlow?

Politics / Tue 8th Sep 2015 am30 09:00am

By Ken Perry

THE UK is facing a highly controversial situation with regard to the influx of immigrants to the EU from nations such as war-struck Syria, which has been engaged in a brutal civil war for the past four years, and other impoverished countries such as Eratria and Somalia.

Opinion in Westminster has proven to be highly divisive, with David Cameron being quoted in The Guardian that he does not “think that there is an answer that can be achieved by simply taking more refugees.”

Acting leader Harriet Harman of the Labour Party has taken exception to the position adopted by the Prime Minister, stating that the UK should “take more of those swept up in this immediate humanitarian crisis.”

There is a general consensus that more should be done to tackle the causation abroad that exacerbates emigration from both the Middle East and Africa. This is an issue that both Labour and the Conservatives agree on, with an official for Downing Street revealing that the UK is the second largest bilateral donor of humanitarian aid, having already pledged £900 million.

If the UK were to accept a larger quota of migrants from abroad, it is entirely possible that Harlow would have to welcome people from abroad. Last year, a study from Oxford University noted that one in ten people living in Harlow are migrants.

Acclimatising Harlow’s migrant population is a challenge which is met by a range of groups, one of which is Integration Support Services. A spokesperson for the charity discussed the wide range of issues that are present, from overcoming language barriers to finding suitable employment.

It has become apparent that some of the national press has had a negative impact on portraying many migrants as unskilled and a burden upon the welfare state. What is clear is that such an approach is unproductive, and does not take into account the positive aspects that a solid integration program can provide for the UK and Harlow.

There are a significant group of people who arrive in Harlow with skills that the country sorely needs. Integration Support Services notes that some migrants “hold degrees in subjects such as engineering and architecture, but due to language barriers have difficulty being able to realise their full potential in the UK’s labour market.”

Depending on what action is taken by the government with regard to the current migrant crisis sweeping Europe, a concerted strategy that ensures people who enter the UK from abroad are given the opportunity to integrate into British society could prove beneficial to both Harlow and the UK as a whole.

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