The photo of Aylan Kurdi, the Syrian child who drowned and washed on the shores of Turkey, has inspired volumes of poetry and sympathy. But words and tears will not help the people of Syria. Actions are needed by all governments— including ours— which considers itself the leading force in the free world.
Aylan, 3, was not alone. His mother and 5 year-old-brother, Galip, perished with him. More than 2,500 refugees have drowned in the Mediterranean while trying to reach Europe this year alone. According to Amnesty International, more than 10 million Syrians were forced to flee their homes because of the war.
It is a global ethical crisis.
The fact that there are human beings who have nowhere to go but death is a shame to the human race. The bloodiest war of the century is behind Syria’s refugees and the sea is in front of them. They are trapped.
Western governments that preach democracy and human rights cannot close their doors to men, women and children who are being chased by doom.
Before setting sail on the doomed boat, the Kurdi children were denied asylum by Canada. They had a Canadian aunt. It is unacceptable that the second largest country on earth, which has a population of 35 million people, has rejected a family seeking a home.
The West has been concerned with the security threat posed by Syria. But refugees are not dangerous. Suffering is. Misery breeds fanaticism, and fanaticism leads to terrorism.
We cannot close our eyes and not care because the suffering is on the other side of the planet. The world is interconnected. Nobody is in an isolated bubble.
Germany is setting a positive example for the world by accepting 800,000 asylum-seekers this year. But the Germans cannot do it alone.
The world has a moral responsibility to help the people of Syria.
Syrians are fellow humans. In the global culture that rules the war today, humanity must rescue its children. Besides the humanitarian aspect, there is a political obligation to help. All powerful world governments are involved in the Syrian tragedy, either by funding or arming factions in Syria or directly bombing the place.
It is ironic that Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other prosperous Gulf monarchies, which have encouraged and sponsored the war, are not accepting Syrian refugees.
“We will tell our children that Syrian migrants fled their country to come to Europe when Mecca and Muslim lands were closer to them,” a Syrian activist wrote on Facebook last week.
But it is not true that all Arabs and Muslims are blocking refugees. Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey have done their part in hosting Syrian refugees, despite limited resources. Lebanon is now home to 1.5 million Syrians, who constitute 25 percent of the country’s total population. Jordan has accepted close to 700,000 refugees and there are about a million Syrians in Turkey.
We urge our elected officials to consider the plight of Syrians and send food and humanitarian aid not weapons to the war-torn country.
America has been a refuge to the powerless throughout its history. The United States should accept more asylum seekers from Syria.