Heartbroken. Disgusted.

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.


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4 Responses to Heartbroken. Disgusted.

  1. Bless you for this. My niece Kelly Clements, who is the US delegate to the UN for refugees, posted a similar invitation on Facebook today http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/5-practical-ways-you-can-help-refugees-trying-to-find-safety-in-europe-10482902.html.
    Every little bit helps.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Laurna – Thanks kindly for the link. In 2013, the USA accepted about 70,000 refugees, which also supports our Government’s contention that we do better per capita than some commentary is suggesting. (Of course, the USA also handles – well or not so well – millions of undocumented aliens.) But the fact is, we have to do better at all stages, and on all fronts.

  2. Jim Taylor says:

    The newspaper this morning had an AP report that says Harper is blowing wind with his claims about our acceptance of refugees. During his tenure, we have dropped from 35,775 a yea to 23,286. Even accepting the 10,000 he says he will accept wouldn’t put us back to our 2006 levels. Three other stories in the same paper talking about the increasing difficulty of bringing in refugees, even with their Canadian family accepting full financial responsibility.
    Actions speak louder than words here. Our words say “Welcome.” Our actions say “Keep Out!”
    Jim T

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Jim – I don’t doubt that our refugee acceptance procedures can be better. The current strictures, however, were driven at least in part by public perceptions that the process was broken the other way. Get here, claim to be a refugee, and you were in. That just penalized process-adhering immigrants. We may, however, have gotten silly in terms of what we expect for documentation, and that’s Not OK. As for our overall levels, we take somewhere between 20,000 and 25,000 annually. The USA’s cap is 70,000.

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