Monday, 4 July 2016

2016 The Summer of Refugees and Common Ground?

Certainly the Summer exodus of refugees that we’ve seen in Europe in recent years has subsided. Yet the UNHCR confirms a world on the move with refugees reaching 65M up from 59M last year.

Chatting with advertising friends, there’s a real need for agencies to deliver on the UNSDG30 goals and Common Ground themes and sub-themes such as refugees or consumption and cities. Food brands may well smack their lips at being involved with healthy eating or Fairtrade coffee, but refugees are to some extent the unwanted guests at the feast.

Rolex for example are unlikely to support refugee programmes when there’s yacht sponsorships to be had – especially with Denmark now introducing a jewellery tax on refugees to allow them to bring in only £1,000 in cash or jewellery and the rest confiscated. A surprising move by a nation with a great tradition of liberalism and support - but not unlike the Germany of the 1930’s and Jewish exodus after Kristallnacht.

Almost 50% of refugees are from hell-holes such as Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia. And almost all the population of Syria is now in massive refugee camps in Turkey and Jordan. While the collapse of Libya will continue, and the resulting c.3k refugee deaths in the Mediterranean.

In East Kent we’ve seen concerns over the expansion of the Calais Jungle to 5,000 refugees and the possibility of any Brexit leading France to relocate the UK border and refugee camp in Dover. While the political unrest in Sudan and Eritrea has resulted in Abdul Haround from Sudan, now freed in Canterbury. He escaped the Calais Jungle, walking the 31 miles through the Channel Tunnel to reach sanctuary from the Janjaweed and ISIS terror blighting East Africa.

While KCC has rightly raised concerns over looking after an extra 300 refugee children, and how those are sensibly allocated around the county and the rest of UK, given the almost total collapse of Kent social services in recent years and shocking mismanagement over Kent’s 900 vulnerable children.

While in Asia, a new wave of boat people is underway with the Rohingya fleeing unrest in Bangladesh as we’ve seen with yet more ISIS suicide attacks at the weekend, and Myanmar, by heading to Thailand and Malaysia and the dangers of trafficking and even proto-death camps.

While the new Aung San regime has opened talks with Thailand on the longer-established refugee camps on the Shan state border with its toxic mix of ethnic cleansing and heroin. Indeed both Afghanistan and Shan state in Myanmar provide almost all the heroin that washes up on Britain’s streets.

And the boat people of Indonesia and Papua New Guinea heading for Australia are cause for concern with Manus Island used as a detention camp for refugees to be held in limbo for years as part of the Pacific Solution that attracted more concern than the Australian points system Brexit debates.

While a new EU-RUSI campaign seeks to stem the cocaine flow from Latin America into Europe via West Africa and narco-states such as Guinea via airports such as Ostend, Manston and Lydd.

The Americas are providing one small glimmer of hope with the 28 year civil war in Colombia reaching a ceasefire this week between FARC rebels and the government likely to lead to greater peace and prosperity and a clampdown on cocaine farms and smuggling to Europe.

Much of Latin America though is facing not so much a refugee crisis as internal migration from cities that are hotter than any warzone through gang and drugs violence - most evident in Mexico and El Salvador. While Brazil’s safety precautions for the Rio Olympics in the next few weeks have reached fever pitch with 238 shootings this year by the police in the city to clamp down on guns and drugs.

As the political unrest continues in UK it’s worth noting that Boris’ 3 German watercannon tanks have turned up in a Kent warehouse in Gravesend run by the Met Police before being sent to the scrapyard with his political career. Both the likely new Tory leader Theresa May and London Mayor Sadiq Khan highlighting the rather foolish approach to riot vehicles only deployed previously in Northern Ireland.

Remainers in the EU like me may want to become official eRomanians with your own Romanian-EU identity card and Romanian helper, with the fun website.

Tim Garbuttescu has a ring to it – and certainly in East Kent with Canterbury and Kent University and Canterbury Christchurch University the largest Romanian populations outside of Bucharest. And there's the importance of economic migrants from Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Slovakia and of course Poland for the shops and restaurants and cafes and hospitals and farms.

While Germany is considering offering German citizenship to UK citizens already living in the EU. No doubt Farage hastily resigning to take advantage of the offer to continue on the EU gravy train before Brexit completely derails.

Certainly refugees and economic migrants must question being in UK, not just as the first nation to consider withdrawing from EU, with race hate crime rising by 5x as reported by NPCC and Kent Police. As indeed must the economic and lifestyle migrants of the UK in the Costa del Sol and Paris and Berlin and Rome.

Yet 65M citizens on the move across the world can be considered both horrifying and yet resolvable. Add in too the 62M children not in school (over two-thirds of them girls). One of the major successes of UNMDG - version 1 of the UNSDG30 if you will - was attaining, in only 15 years, 90% of children in primary school.
Obviously they won’t all stay in school and there’s an issue of high school and university provision. But 90% in schools is as astonishing a success as polio eradication by Rotary in the last 30 years, or a Woman on Mars by 2030.

The problem of teaching remains for 715M who cannot read and write and the c.20M or so children in refugee camps who have had their educations disrupted if not destroyed by upheaval in the trek through the desert from Syria or Somalia or Afghanistan. Or the death-defying boat trips from Libya or Bangladesh or Myanmar.
And 65M refugees, I the world, about the population of UK, is comparatively few compared to the disasters that created Oxfam and UNHCR with the destruction of almost all of Europe after WW2 and millions of Europeans made refugees.

Refugees now more than ever need Common Ground.

The advertising industry has stepped forward with a superb in initiative, but where is the Common Ground by other industries? Why aren’t the soda giants of Pepsi and Coke pulling together? Why aren’t the car giants of VW and Ford and Nissan pulling together? And so on. Every industry should have a Common Ground programme for UNDG30 beyond their own specific corporate and brand activity.

Most shameful of all - where is the public sector Common Ground initiative? Not one UK public sector organisation has even pledged to support UNSDG30.

Not one.

And Britain and East Kent facing the Brexit crisis, now more than ever, need Common Ground.

Time for Change

* Sincerity article: Thai Foreign Minister, Khun Surin Pitsuwan and Thai-UK trade:

* Sincerity article: Soda Wars go pop

* Surin Charity: Malaria a brief thought:

* Sincerity article on Coca-Cola:

* 21st century Britain agenda article:

* No Tobacco Day Smoking Sincerity article:

* EK Remedial points 2016:

* EK strategy 2016:

* Time for a Free Economy article:

* Surin restaurant review: top Thai restaurant in Kent:

- Surin Thai restaurant the best Thai restaurant in Kent and one of only 45 of any cuisine in Kent according to KM:

* The Bridges of Battambang to follow

Tim’s tidbits

1. Good to see the good folks of Waitrose in Ramsgate supporting East Kent-Benelux with not just the rather splendid Panasonic batteries display but also Alpro yoghurt on an extraordinary trial price of just £1. Most of the large yoghurts costing at least £1.29. With Panasonic batteries based in Belgium it’s worth East Kent’s schools and hosptals tweaking their procurement roster on batteries. And if you’re buying batteries yourself to tune up your radio for the tennis or cricket then Panasonic are as good as any, and better than most. While with Belgium’s Alpro yoghurt for a quid how can you go wrong? It’s worth a try (and Alpro milk) and if you don't like it then don’t buy it again. But certainly Waitrose are to be congratulated on helping boost the EK economy over the longer-term and they need to know in terms of product ordering and display which brands the Great British East Kent public are getting behind to support.

2. While in terms of cricket, Waitrose support for the England cricket team is both a good fit and ideal for the Sports Diplomacy programme especially with India to boost UK exports.

3. Football unfortunately has gone to Iceland and lost. More later.

4. The Dreamland murk continues with TDC after 6 months having the information dragged out from them (well some of it) of the £900k court fine paid to Sands Hotel etc by TDC. Why? And Cllr Driver has raised questions over the whole £30M public tax bill for Dreamland and strange £600k Cayman Islands loan. I too am a huge supporter of Dreamland and want it to work – and it will – but what a ramshackle way of going about it by TDC/KCC.

5. The Pav on hold due to asbestos and concerns over Wetherspoons. Just one of the worst UK companies not for its Brexit stance but outrageous use of zero hours contracts like Sports Direct.

6. Sports Direct now expressing an interest in BHS with the pension scandal propped up by Chairman Lord “grabbin” Grabiner, the scoundrel of the Bar, and the feeble LIBOR review for the Bank of England. He declared no crimes - yet today 3 of the bankers are jailed. So much for that legal beagle. Rather we need more LIBOR bankers and lawyers and barristers like Grabiner's colleagues Hollingworth and Glick QC jailed.

7. Lucky Iron Fish: the more I see of this innovative Canadian product for malnutrition and iron deficiencies it’s perfect for Cambodia and other countries. A thing of genius. Perfect for Benelux-EK too, and the good folks of Unilever in Rotterdam. Keep it tea with a free LuckyIronFish donated to Cambodia for every 1,000 boxes of teabags sold? Probably a food brand would be better but you get the gist of it.

8. Kent's Cuisine Coast expands too with Niddy Thai Noodles launching in Harbour St, Ramsgate just near Surin Thai restaurant, Saffron Indian restaurant and Kyoto Sushi. Thoroughly recommended. Lend your support if you can and don't fancy an Alpro yoghurt.

Time for Change

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