The call on migrants that James O'Brien describes as "good for the soul"

11 August 2020, 13:57

By Seán Hickey

James O'Brien branded this conversation with a man who dedicated himself to working with refugees and asylum seekers "good for the soul."

John told James O'Brien that he was attending the 80th anniversary of the kinder transport not so long ago and was struck by the similarities between the current migrant crisis and the mass immigration of Jewish people in the 1940s.

"These people have contributed an enormous amount to this country, the businesses they've run, the jobs they've done," he said, hinting that if we gave the people crossing into the UK now the same chance we gave to the kinder transport generation we would benefit greatly.

John went on to tell James that since September 2015 he's been involved with refugees in Calais and Greece and wished people could have the compassion and sympathy he has for these people.

"How do you retain your faith in human nature then," James wondered.

"How do you feel when you open your newspaper and see the 21st century equivalent of German Jews flooding into our country."

John said that one of the things that infuriates him is reading through James' twitter replies.

The caller couldn't understand why people didn't have compassion for people crossing the channel
The caller couldn't understand why people didn't have compassion for people crossing the channel. Picture: PA

"All they're trying to do is protect their families and protect themselves," the caller said.

The pair then spoke about Hassan Akkad, who worked as a cleaner in the NHS during the pandemic after fleeing Syria during the civil war.

James had Mr Akkad as a guest on his Full Disclosure podcast and John had met him while he was filming for the BAFTA award winning documentary Exodus.

"Going to work as a cleaner in the NHS during the coronavirus is not enough to persuade people that he's not a threat," James said, "it's just bizarre."

John pulled back the conversation to the plight of people seeking refuge in Europe, who mainly reside in places like Lebanon and Jordan. "As if their life isn't bad enough at the moment, now they've got to put up with all the stuff that's going on in Lebanon"

"When I read the stuff on social media," John said, "it's just pure ignorance, they have no idea what they're talking about."