As a point of interest and in talking about the whole refugee crisis with friends in Switzerland, one little village of population 2,000 in that country has been told it is receiving 100 asylum seekers within the next few weeks. Some have already arrived. They are not from Syria but from Eritrea, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka. They will be housed in the basement of a small hospital and in a house.
If Cranbrook were to do the equivalent, we would need to receive 1000 refugees or asylum seekers.
Cranbrook and Kimberley British Columbia were the first communities to make public statements that they are 'Proud to Protect Refugees' in May 2013. Both Cranbrook and Kimberley recognized the contributions that refugees make to the community and the importance of extending a warm welcome to refugees and their families.
City of Cranbrook proclamation
City of Kimberley statement of commitment
For more about these cities' efforts to recognize and promote welcoming communities for refugees, read:
City signs on to refugee protection (Cranbrook), 13 May 2013
Kimberley signs on to refugee protection, 14 May 2013
or go to: http://ccrweb.ca/en/home
By Gerry Warner
It’s the picture that shocked the world. Lying face down on a Turkish tourist beach is a little, three-year-old Syrian child that didn’t make it.
Aylan Kurdi was a member of a Syrian family fleeing the unspeakable horror of the Syrian civil war that has engulfed his native land for five years and caused as many as 2 million Syrian refugees to flee the carnage for the chance to live a normal life like you and me. But his family’s desperate quest failed as a mostly indifferent world looks blankly away and debates whether such a picture should even be displayed.
After all, it might ruin our supper or give us unpleasant thoughts while thumbing our smart phones.
You may not like it, but the picture accompanying this column has been shown widely and I implore you to look at it again for as long as you can take it. That kid is hardly bigger than a doll. Indeed, when I first saw it, I thought that social media was up to its tricks again with some sort of a sick joke with a soldier and a doll-like object he found on the beach. But then I looked closer at the grotesque spectacle and flinched. And I looked away, just as the world has been doing for the most part about this numbing tragedy.
Like many of you, I have children too. They’re grown up now and doing well and I thank God for that as I’m sure you do. But I thought; what was this? I couldn’t help but notice those little fingers and hands palms-up, the head lying at a bizarre angle partially buried in the sand. You can see one of the child’s eyes, but you can’t tell if it’s open or closed. However, his tousled, brown hair is clearly visible as is his red T-shirt and bluish shorts and little, blue shoes. It doesn’t take much of an act of the imagination to imagine the kid on his feet, running, smiling, playing as kids do in the normal world.
But this child’s world was anything but “normal.” That’s why he’s lying there on the beach at the feet of what appears to be some kind of soldier or para-medic taking notes while the child’s head points out to sea and his ravaged homeland. There are reports that the voyage the family was taking was only 30 minutes long and began in calm seas before their fragile craft overturned in heavy waters. Perhaps that explains why little Aylan was dressed as if he was going out to play or to prayers with his family at the mosque. But the real situation was obviously different. According to a TV interview on CNN, Aylan was on a small fiberglass boat with his parents Abdullah and Rehen and four-year-old brother Galip in a trip arranged by refugee smugglers, surely our generation’s scum of the earth. But when the cruel seas did what cruel seas have always done, all the family perished except for Aylan’s grief stricken father.
Not surprisingly, Abdullah told CNN he has no more reason to live. “I don't want anything else from this world," he told CNN on Thursday. “Everything I was dreaming of is gone. I want to bury my children and sit beside them until I die.” The unspeakable grief of a parent. Any parent – Syrian, Canadian, Muslim, Christian – you name it. And now it’s all fodder on the Canadian election campaign trail.
It’s getting to be too much!
I don’t question the sincerity of the Canadian political leaders that commented on this tragedy and they all did. And we all know that this family was headed to Canada. But mere words are not enough. There needs to be action when the election is over. Political action for Canada to accept thousands of Middle Eastern refugees to a country that has more to offer than almost any other. Are we up to this humanitarian task or will we again look away?
The choice is ours and may make a good question at any all-candidates meeting you attend.