We know that research is not the only thing PhD students think and talk about and that is why we are starting a new section on PhD Life titled “Your Views”. If you would like to share your thoughts on any current affairs, let us know. This week, Bernard writes about the refugee crisis….

I have been following the news about the situation in Greece and more recently about the wave of refugees coming to Europe. It does not make me feel very proud of my continent. Specialists who have realised the impacts of our foreign policies would maybe not see the situation as a surprise. But witnessing those consequences strikes even harder. And I feel totally powerless. Does my well-being come at the price of others’ misfortunes (middle east countries)? I am well-born and never had to fight for my life. The taxpayer financed the wars, unwillingly, and then, with reduced means, will have to face the consequences.

It benefits the politicians and those backing them (does it profit the taxpayer?). It also raises the massive issue between national sovereignty and the interference right on behalf of human rights, (and of our interest too). I think one of the stumbling block residing in the refugees wave is the potential exacerbated competition for job access (or just decently paid jobs) which could be a reason for hatred reactions. (To complicate matter even further, this unfolds in an era where technology does better than humans at work and capitals better than labour). If it is admitted that refugees are taking low skilled jobs (which are vacant), a part of them also has a higher education. Will they have access to higher skilled professions in our countries? Is this generally not going to result in cheapest work that will neither benefit the population nor the refugees but the upper part of society and further increase inequalities sustaining the current society?

This is why, regardless of the number of refugees welcomed (a fraction of the global european population), to blame nationals opposing their arrivals of being racists is an easy shortcut (for excluding them of the debate, if there is). I just disagree. I can otherwise conceive their reactions if they are fighting to meet ends and have to pay the price of their government failures. Privatisations and cuts in public funds further burdening the most fragiles is suicide. An alternative is massive public funding to provide the means to face the situation (and overall have better paid jobs. This world is creating wealth as never before but poverty is still highly there. We have the right to raise the issue.) And political speeches, quotas and pilgrimages are not solutions.

Photo credits: Bernard Reman
Photo credits: Bernard Reman

Everyone deserves a decent future. Both refugees and nationals. With good will and adapted means, I do not doubt refugees will successfully integrate our societies, and that we would be more open. Have we forgotten our past? How about Italian and Spanish moving to France last century? And the Italian, Moroccan and Turkish people working in the Belgian mines? We have a past of integration. How ready are we today? On the other hand, people, and especially those living in plenitude, suffer from amnesia, at the benefits of nantis, politicians. Everyone saw the dreadful pictures of the dead child. This thankfully leads people to take actions against the current events. But what kind of emotions and sensations does it take to react? Can we even react? Does it not highlight that we do not really care most of the time and that we just want to prove our souls we are humans and mindful, and fall asleep again, in the society of the self, where personal-anything is the norm, in front of situations that require the mostly-we. How do we wake up?

This is not an academic writing and I am sure lots of people here know where more than I do, this is just a mere (fully incomplete) account of a young european towards today’s situation. So I would genuinely accept criticism and hope this does not hurt anyone. Probably of big interest in the (very) near future: elections in Greece, Germany that closed its Austrian boundaries, (potential) bombings from western countries in the middle east, middle east countries, EU, Corbyn elected as head of the labour party, education, and other countless topics/facts actually.

Bernard Reman, PhD student in Physics, University of Warwick


  • The views and opinions expressed in “Your Views” section of PhD Life are those of the authors.