It’s great to see Leeds talking seriously about how it can support people fleeing violence and forced to leave their homes and countries. The council task force has come up with a “compassionate” plan to offer 200 Syrians a home. (See http://www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk/news/latest-news/top-stories/leeds-offers-home-to-200-refugees-1-7462798)
But is it really enough when there are over 4,000,000 Syrian refugees? And is the task force right when it judges that 200 is “the number of Syrians that can be helped by Leeds without putting strain on local services?”
Let’s get perspective
Look carefully enough and you’ll see one red dot in the middle.
Schools fight to get even one refugee
What about the pressure on schools. Well let’s assume the 200 include a LOT of children – say 100 of them. That would mean placing much less than one refugee in each school in Leeds. (Actually two-third of schools would miss out and not be able to have a refugee at all.)
I know I’m being unfair and the new refugees will not be spread evenly around the city – they are much more likely to be in the poorer, inner-city areas. I also know that Leeds already has a problem with a shortage of primary school places. But if we are talking about compassion then surely a rich city like Leeds can afford to do more.
2.5 GPs for each refugee
With 517 GPs in Leeds and a population of 750,000 that means 1,450 people per GP. No wonder there is strain on the system. But the addition of half a refugee can hardly be the cause of the strain. It’s too easy to blame the refugee at the back of the queue for the problems already in the system.
Could do better
Offering a safe haven for 200 Syrians is wonderful things to do Leeds City Council should be congratulated on standing up for what is right. However, I believe we could do better.