I had hoped to write this if not before then during Refugee Week, which the UNHCR package I received prior to it, informed me was June 17-23, but family commitments prevented me from doing so. Though I did display the enclosed poster on my sitting-room window, were it remains. However, always somewhat allergic to ‘sandwich-boarding’ my body, even for the best of causes, the turquoise ribbon was pinned to the notice board in my work room, beside the anxious face of a Afghani child on a UNHCR postcard.

The UK media already in election mode, national politics dominating the BBC news more than ever, no mention was made of Refugee Week. Nor, come to that, was the desperate plight of the Palestinian’s suffering in Gaza given much, if any, air-time, and the humanitarian disaster unfolding in Sudan is all but forgotten. To be replaced by the latest UK poll figures and the story of yet another incompetent, ineffectual idiot trying to pocket a few quid from the failure to which he himself has contributed. Oh the distance between us! Between voter and government, between genes and geography. It ‘colours’, dare I say it, what news story reaches our screens. Whitey still protects whitey. See Biden and Netanyahu. Note the different attitude to Ukrainian refugees, as opposed to those from Afghanistan, Syria, Sudan – Gaza, if they could get away!

However, I did catch two excellent BBC programmes during that week. Dead Calm: killing in the Med: a chilling BBC2 current affairs documentary in which the Greek coastguard patrols were shown to be complicit in the deaths of hundreds of migrants, and, on BBC4, a Storyville animated documentary concerning a young, gay Afghan’s escape with his family after his father’s arrest and probable death entitled FLEE.

In 2023, I read in a UN report, 120 million people were forcibly displaced from their homes, internally or internationally. This the 12th consecutive year the figure has risen. Equating to 1 in 69 people on the planet that is home to us all.

This rising figure, as well as the climate emergency our politicians seem to be ignoring in this election, brought to mind a hit single from my distant but undimmed past. Melting Pot was the song, Blue Mink, the band, Madeline Bell the singer. It was early 1970 and to be young, and twenty-one, was to live with a good deal of hope for a freer, fairer kinder more equal world. Some of which had already come to pass in the 1967 sexual offences and abortion acts, some passing others by. And for women, especially, in many countries their rights have been reversed. A few of the song’s lyrics, by Roger Cook and Roger Greenaway, might be frowned upon today, but its ethos, a Utopian vision of a multicultural society in which race no longer mattered, was essentially a good one.

But 54 years have passed since that hopeful time, and our planet is itself a ‘melting pot’, each year, along with the rising refugee figures, getting hotter and hotter. Each year millions displaced, not only by the pointless wars caused by a few lunatic men hanging onto power, but by droughts, fires, floods and mudslides, by their homes and their homeland becoming unsustainable places in which to live.

My UNHCR package also contained this attached poem Refugees. If you’re reading this blog, take a moment to read it, not once, but twice; the second time starting from the bottom and reading to the top. Take time to look at things a different way. Time for the rich and greedy to share depleting resources. Time to care for all living beings on this planet, human and animal, near and far, wherever they are. Because we are one people, one planet. Because time is running out – for all of us!


by Brian Bilston

They have no need of our help
So do not tell me
These haggard faces could belong to you or I
Should life have dealt a different hand
We need to see them for who they really are
Chancers and scroungers
Layabouts and loungers
With bombs up their sleeves
Cut-throats and thieves
They are not
Welcome here
We should make them
Go back to where they came from
They cannot
Share our food
Share our homes
Share our countries
Instead let us
Build a wall to keep them out
It is not okay to say
These are people just like us
A place should only belong to those who are born there
Do not be so stupid to think that
The world can be looked at another way

(now read from bottom to top)


Dead Calm: Killing in the Med, directed by Ben Steele
BBC2 programmes iPLAYER

FLEE a Storyville documentary, directed by Jonas Poher Rasmussen

UNHCR: the UN Refugee Agency