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Was Lilly Allen right to apologise to migrant children at Calais

Was Lilly Allen right to apologise to migrant children at the Calais refugee camp on behalf of the UK?

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On the 12th October the popular singer received a great deal of criticism for apologising ‘on behalf of my country’ to a refugee at the ‘jungle’ camp in Calais. Mainly criticism was based around her legitimacy to speak on behalf of the country (Horton, 2016).

While it is clear she is not an official representative of the UK, it can be argued that she did not act as if she were. As it is, she commented acting in a personal capacity, but due to her status this expanded to receive widespread public attention.

Another controversial aspect is whether anyone from the UK ought to be apologising to people at the Calais camps. Lily Allen appeared to base her statement on emotional grounds (being visibly upset at the time) and also stating that the UK has contributed to the migrant/refugee crisis (Nye and baker, 2016).

The UK played a role in the coalition of countries which destabilised the Middle East through invasion of Iraq, and supporting rebel groups in Libya and Syria. This contributed to the conflict across the region and the displacement of refugees and migrants. These countries were ostensibly aiming to combat dictatorships out of sympathy for local populations, but instead allowed extremist groups to thrive.

It is relevant to note that the people present in the camps are a mixture of asylum seekers and migrants. It can be argued that neither should be attempting to gain access to the UK by creating camps on the borders. The migrants should use official channels to gain permission to enter, while refugees should claim asylum in the first peaceful country that they enter.

However, as a wealthy country, some retort that the UK should offer to take in some of the migrants/refugees based on its ability to support them. Some other European counties, notably Germany and Sweden, have taken in much larger numbers of migrants/refugees.


Horton, H. 2016, Lily Allen apologises on behalf of England while visiting Calais refugee camp (online), The telegraph, available: [], accessed: 14/10/16

Nye, C. and Baker, J. 2016, The Calais conversation that left Lily Allen in tears (online), BBC, available: [], accessed: 14/10/16