I discovered, when I followed my wife around the country as she filled medical posts as a short-term locum, that the British have a very cunning way of dealing with asylum seekers: They send them to one of the many terrible places in the country such as Rotherham. It would be invidious to name the nationality or ethnic group of most of the asylum seekers sent to Rotherham. Suffice it to say that many of them seemed to play billiards all day in the upstairs rooms of cafés devoted to providing cheap and excellent food of their native cuisine, or to watching as near to pornography as the computers in the central municipal library would permit. It was obvious to me that the British authorities reasoned thus: If a man preferred to stay in Rotherham rather than beg to be repatriated, his life must really have been in danger and he was a true refugee.

Another group of refugees whom I came across were the Kosovars. I was surprised that there were so many of them. I had never met any Kosovar refugees until NATO liberated Kosovo and made it safe for democracy. Indeed, the Kosovars are still one of the largest groups seeking asylum in Western Europe, despite the fact that their country is a parliamentary democracy that holds elections. On the other hand, I once caught a glimpse of Hashim Thaçi, the guerrilla leader and gunrunner”€“turned”€“respectable politician, and I thought that asylum from him would be a good idea from the individual Kosovar’s point of view. I also came across cases of such horrible abuse of women in Kosovo that they were granted asylum on nonpolitical, that is to say humanitarian, grounds.

My personal sympathy for the asylum seekers whom I met, and even for the economic migrants, was considerable. And like everyone else, I was moved by the picture of Aylan Kurdi on the beach on the Bodrum Peninsula. Since I started to write this, news has come through that at least 22 migrants drowned earlier this morning as they tried to reach Kos from southwest of Bodrum (211 were rescued from the capsized boat). The terrible truth, though, is that it will not affect my appetite for lunch, nor my desire that the small place in which I live should be saved from the influx of hundreds or thousands of migrants.


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