When the Government of Iceland offered to accommodate just 50 refugees this year, a humanitarian group of Icelanders approached the Government and implored them to allow 4,950 more refugees to take shelter in their country.
They wrote on Facebook:
“Refugees are our future spouses, best friends, our next soul mate, the drummer in our children’s band, our next colleague, Miss Iceland 2022, the carpenter who finally fixes our bathroom, the chef in the cafeteria, the fireman, the hacker and the television host. People who we’ll never be able to say to: ‘Your life is worth less than mine.”
It’s that image… the image of that lifeless, face-down body of a three-year-old Kurdish Syrian boy, washed ashore on a Turkish beach, which has changed the meaning of my life.
Heartsick over how the ill-fated, hundreds of thousands of Middle Eastern refugees pouring into Europe are being treated, I have, without effort, stopped whining over the insignificant things in life. The morbidity of the Syrian refugee crisis makes my life’s seemingly impossible challenges appear trivial and inconsequential. I no longer sweat when I am stuck in traffic and running late for work.
After their boat drowned, Aylan Kurdi’s father held his two sons and a wife, all dead, and kept them above the water, but the strong waves took his family with it, throwing them into the different corners of the Mediterranean.
At another place, a truck in Hungary was found with around 71 cramped dead bodies of Syrian refugees who were trying to cross the borders. They died from suffocation after the drivers abandoned the truck and ran away from the police. No one heard them screaming or banging on the doors. They died in agony, but in silence.
Approximately four million terribly unfortunate, caught-in-the-crosshairs Syrians are running away from the civil war in their country, the genesis of which can be traced back to the Arab Spring of 2011.
The uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya stirred the Syrian people, encouraging them to come out of their homes in peaceful protest against the Assad regime, which miserably failed to live up to people’s expectations, and reacted strongly to anti-Government slogans and graffiti. They tortured and killed their own people in thousands, and then killed some more.
The situation worsened, and took the form of a civil war. At the moment, Syria is controlled by the forces of the regime, the rebels, and the dreaded Islamic extremists, the ISIS terrorist.
Countless number of Syrians are trapped, marooned, missing, suffering and even dead. Thousands are already living in camps in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Greece. Many more are headed for a long walk towards Europe, their last hope.
But it’s horrifying to see several European nations shut the door on homeless Syrians. It’s equally, if not more, disgusting to see the Sheikhs of Saudi Arabia, UAE and the other oil-rich nations shirk responsibility and indulge in excesses and unrestrained behavior.
While the displaced Syrian families, forced to abandon their homes, look for rehabilitation in strange lands, the King of Saudi Arabia has booked the entire Four Seasons in the US to revive the sinking relationship with the Americans. The Americans, on their part, laid out the red carpet for the King.
But hang on, why aren’t the Syrians taking refuge in their more wealthy neighbors in the Gulf, much closer to home? Officially, Syrians can apply for a tourist visa or work permit in order to enter a Gulf state, but the process is costly, and there is a widespread perception that many Gulf States have unwritten restrictions in place that make it hard for Syrians to be granted a visa in practice. Without a visa, Syrians are not currently allowed to enter into the Arab countries, except for Algeria, Mauritania, Sudan and Yemen.
A humanitarian Gulf country would have immediately eased its laws and responded to the global cry for help.
While many European politicians are pussyfooting around, posturing for the media, a small and much less capable country – Turkey – has already embraced over two million people. Instead of one country bearing the burden of a displaced nation, shouldn’t every country worth its salt ensure that there is equal distribution of refugees? Humanity has become a strange notion to many.
Although Germany has begun to welcome refugees, many Germans are against the idea. It’s funny. Most of the people who are against immigrants entering into Germany are immigrants themselves. They have been living in the Fatherland for years, but they will remain immigrants. Should they really open their mouths on this?
We should welcome anyone who escapes the ravages of war. The one going on in Syria has claimed hundreds of lives already, and threatens to consume many more. Like Germany, many other countries towards which the refugees are headed, are large countries. There is plenty of space, no real shortage of money.
It’s heart-rending and intolerable to see Eastern European nations thwarting refugees’ attempt to cross over. Soulless countries like Slovakia, Hungary, Lithuania, Romania and the rest are big on camaraderie and brotherhood when the richer EU countries pump money into their highways and hospitals projects, but show little to no compassion to the millions rendered homeless!
Britons, enraged at the hollow statements of solidarity made by their dull and boring politicians, are imploring the Government to order decisive military action in Syria. British Prime Minister David Cameron announced that the country can allow up to 15,000 migrants into the UK. Surely, a wealthy, resourceful nation like the UK can accommodate more!
Countries which greet and incorporate the mostly young and fit refugees, because the unfit and aged die on the way to a new life, have a good chance of giving shape to a highly productive population in the years down the line. Eastern Europe, meanwhile, will rue the missed chance.
Merchants of death
People’ smugglers have emerged onto the scene, exploiting the situation. They are reported to be swindling the helpless migrants, raking in dollars from up to 50 families per day for dinghy trips to the Greek island, Kos. They charge 600 Pounds for the 12-mile ride.
The Syrian migrants can’t go back to where they came from. They need new homes and new lives, and it’s up to us to help them.