Mark Haddon, author of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime (which i luuuuuved) recently wrote an article for the Guardian/Observer on the surreal cruelty of being a refugee in the UK. It’s got me all riled.

He admits that he’d had only a basic idea of what the situation of refugees was but that he hadn’t met anyone that was a part of the system:

Now I have. And nothing has made me this angry in a long time. We bellyache about the abuse of human rights overseas. But there are thousands of people living here, right now, in one of the richest countries in the world, forced to live in poverty. They are denied basic rights and services which the rest of us take for granted. And this is not an accident. This is government policy. And we should be ashamed of it.

Wowzers!!! I wanted to bold, like, all of that. This is why its a good idea to get someone new to a topic to look at it through fresh eyes. Oxfam was smart to recruit him to do this piece. Outrage dies down, you simply can’t live being reeeeaaally indignant all the time, so for commentators and activists who live and breathe these realities, those types of statements simmer down after a while. It’s nice to see someone not mince words about the absurdity of forcing people to be poor when they want and are able to contribute.

But it gets even worse than poverty in some cases. Haddon introduces us to Sergey, an Armenian doctor who became homeless after being denied asylum (he had witnessed the murder of a politician and was in danger of being murdered himself) Now this is absolutely shameful: (no, wait shameful’s not even the word – is there a word for this? It’s staggering in it’s utterly twisted disregard for the essential value of human life. Ugh – that doesn’t get it right. Nevermind, just read) :

While sleeping rough, Sergey had contracted Hepatitis C, one of the 10 per cent of sufferers who get the disease for unknown reasons, though living on the street cannot be good for anyone’s health. He got no treatment and, as often happens, the disease led to cirrhosis of the liver. Sergey will be dead within two years. A transplant could save his life, but he doesn’t qualify for one because of his asylum status. Eventually, Sergey found his way to the Hounslow Law Centre. They got him registered with the National Asylum Support Service. He was given a room in a shared house and seen by a doctor who told him he should eat three meals a day, with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. Sergey has to do this on £35 of vouchers each week. These have to be spent on food and basic toiletries and nothing else. They have to be spent in one supermarket and that supermarket is not allowed to give him any change. He is not allowed to earn any more money.

Pay attention to my highlighted bit. It’s not “he is going to die and he is one of the discarded, precarious members of a wealthy society” its “he is going to die because he is one of the discarded, precarious members of a wealthy society.” That is the reason to kill him. And yes, I’ll say kill. If you stand by and watch someone die when you have the power to save them, it’s criminal. This policy is criminal. Bottom line.

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