An off-cycle rant about refugees and politicians.
No doubt you’ve seen the photograph: A small boy lies slackly, face down, at the water’s edge.
This three-year-old Syrian boy, dead on a Turkish beach, poignantly summarizes the current refugee crisis, which exists in a disturbing and persistent global context:
- 5 million registered Palestinian refugees in 60 camps being looked after by UNRWA
- 13 million other refugees “of concern” to UNHCR, as of mid-2014
It’s a lot for one little boy to carry, don’t you think? Let’s give him a hand.
Let’s accept more refugees. If the Canadian Government’s numbers are correct, we now accept “about 1 in 10 of the 100,000 refugees that countries with resettlement programs accept from abroad.” That sounds like a good record (although the marketer in me wonders about what’s being obscured by the carefully precise phrasing), but in the context of 13 million refugees of concern, 10,000 or even 100,000 isn’t a lot, is it?
Let’s give more help to neighbouring countries, building their capacity to accept refugees. If folks need temporary refuge, the closer to home the better. If they need permanent refuge, maybe closer to home is better, too. Similar societies offer better chances for long-term integration.
Let’s stem the tide. If we want to do more than shovel water with a fork, let’s push back against the factors that create refugees: civil war, chief among them. Easy? No. Important? Yes.
Finally, let’s smack any politician using this kid’s death to self-righteously score partisan political points. It’s disgusting. Let’s refocus their attention where it needs to be: on doing something that will help.
Today and tomorrow and tomorrow after that.