Published by CultNoise Magazine.
Today, David Cameron finally bowed to the overwhelming public outcry, and immense national and international pressure urging Britain to do more to help in the Syrian refugee crisis.
Following the shocking image that went viral this week of three-year-old Syrian boy Aylan Kurdi who drowned and was washed up on a beach in Turkey as his family tried to flee to the Greek island of Kos, the British Prime Minister announced that Britain will act “with our head and our heart” and “accept thousands more” Syrians from refugee camps in countries bordering Syrian; in the hope that this move will discourage Syrians from taking the treacherous journey to Europe on boats organised by people smugglers which has already resulted in thousands of deaths at sea.
The disturbing and tragic image of Aylan Kurdi, who was buried in his hometown of Kobani today, and the story of the 71 refugees found dead in a lorry abandoned on an Austrian motorway this month have galvanized public interest in the urgency and scale the Syrian refugee crisis, sparked by the Syrian civil war which initially began in 2011.
While many have taken to social media to share their feelings of disgust that an image of a dead child was being “politicized” and that the use of such a photograph is “disrespectful”, these comments only illuminate how misdirected and ignorant attitudes in Britain still are in relation to this crisis.
The mere fact that such a young child like Kurdi and his five-year-old brother Galip and their mother Rehan were forced into a situation where they had to flee their home and seek asylum by embarking on a dangerous and unpredictable journey that resulted in their harrowing deaths is the part of this story that warrants a public outcry. The fact that this harrowing event was allowed to happen in the first place is what deserves to be acknowledged. The use of this, albeit disturbing, image does not deserve public angry in comparison with the suffering of tens of thousands of refugees. It is the crisis itself and the inaction to stop it that deserves public outrage – not a photograph.
While many have praised Britain’s role in proving aid and opening its doors to Syrian refugees, others have criticized the slow response and have said that accepting thousands rather than tens of thousands of refugees is simply not enough.
What remains clear is that much more must be done on a global scale to ease the suffering of refugees and we all have a part to play. It is now the time to put our religious and political differences aside and look within ourselves to find our compassion and humanity, and to recognize that this is not a migrant crisis – it is a humanitarian crisis.
It is the moral responsibility of all of us as citizens of developed countries to implore world leaders to act now. It is of paramount importance that we collect donations, raise awareness, hold vigils and demonstrations and shout about this issue until our voices are heard; until leaders around the world listen to the people. This is a time to temporarily forget about the rigidness of policies, legislation and formalities, and to acknowledge that this is the biggest and most devastating refugee crisis since the second World War.
At one time, there were thousands of Britons in need who sent their children, sometimes thousands of, miles away to the countryside and rural towns to escape the danger in the cities during WW2. We seem to have forgotten that at one time, Britons were seeking help and safety just as the Syrians and refugees from other nations are today, which is all the more reason to have empathy and compassion; and to offer help in the form of our various resources from donations and aid to welcoming refugees who want nothing more than safety, freedom and peace.
Image courtesy of Eoghan Rice / Trocaire via Flickr.
It is the time to dispel ignorance, racism and selfishness, and to instead offer help and support to those who need it most. The millions of people in Syria and other countries struggling in conflict and poverty are not just refugees or asylum seekers; they are human beings. They are people just like you and I with their own families, hopes, ambitions, dreams and sorrows, and they desperately need to be greeted with compassion and, above all, help.
A crisis of this scale is never going to be solved over night. There is only so much that any one country can do to help relieve the suffering of the refugees of the Syrian civil war. The solution to this crisis remains unclear, but what is clear, is that we should be doing more to help.
To contribute to the relief efforts, you can: gather clothes, shoes and toiletries to take down to your local collection point to donate; donate money through Oxfam or Save the Children; fundraise yourself; buy an item on the Amazon wish list for donation to refugees in Calais and Greece; donate directly to the relief efforts in Calais; attend a vigil in your city (Glasgow has sparked a series of “Sees Syria” events around the country); or anything at all that you can manage to do – every act of charity, no matter how small, will help.
No human being is illegal. Let’s create a world without borders. Refugees welcome.
What are your thoughts of the refugee crisis? Let us know in the comments section below.
Header image courtesy of Leif Hinrichsen via Flickr.