Socialist Worker is deliberately putting the refugee crisis on its front page along side the housing crisis, as well as discussing its roots on p4-5 inside. We do this knowing full well that that there will be people who will say, ‘How can we welcome refugees when we can’t house our own?’
We believe that the resources exist in Ireland, and even more so in Europe as a whole, to solve BOTH the housing crisis AND the refugee crisis. The problem in both cases is the same – those resources are monopolised by a tiny minority of the super rich and the giant corporations and the system is focused on their needs not the needs of the poor and homeless, whether they are Irish homeless or refugee homeless.
In 2014 there were 468 billionaires in Europe with a total net wealth of $1.95 trillion. When it comes to millionaires there are 1.43 million households worth a million euros in Germany, 1.33 million in France and 796,000 in the UK. Switzerland, alone, has over 500,000 milionaire households.
The idea that this immensely rich continent cannot afford to open its borders to people fleeing for their lives from wars which the EU and Ireland have directly fomented or aided and abetted through the arms trade is grotesque.
The EU is promising to give €1 billion aid to help the refugee crisis – to help keep the refugees out, that is. The EUs annual expenditure on arms is €281 billion. That’s 281 times as much spent on creating the problem as spent on trying to solve it.
The big picture
When we look at the overall picture it is clear that the reasons for the housing crisis and the reasons for the refugee crisis are closely linked and that those responsible for both crises are the same governments, the same neo-liberal policies and the same profit-focussed system.
The politicians and developers who don’t care if homeless people die on the streets are the same people who don’t care if they drown in the Mediterranean. The politicians who close their borders and erect razor wire fences to keep out refugees are the same who preside over evicting people from their homes because they cant afford spiralling rents or mortgage arrears.
That’s why we argue that housing rights and refugee rights are part of the same struggle for a decent society, not one dominated by greed, private property and profit. And that’s why we believe that if we do welcome refugees to Ireland they will enrich our society economically and culturally, not damage it or be a burden. And many of them will also join and strengthen our fight for social justice here. That is why we are proud to say ‘Refugees Welcome Here’.