There has been a huge emotional response to pictures of a small boy on the shore of Turkey, which sparked petitions and huge amounts of vitriol directed towards David Cameron for not opening the doors of our country to refugees. The emotional response is fine but the direction of it is completely wrong!
What is the long term aim that simply taking in refugees aims to solve? If we look past the sudden outburst of media covering the situation, this situation has been around for a long time and in the period that the media didn’t sensationally report on it, this was still happening. Looking at the Syrian crisis specifically, by opening all our doors to Syrians, this has a detrimental effect on the very country we are trying to help. If a huge amount of immigrants are displaced to Europe, Syria is losing the people that it needs to stay who are so important for rebuilding the country.
What we, and the media, should be focusing on is pouring money into the camps housing the refugees in the countries surrounding Syria and supporting the well being of the refugees there, not waiting until they get to us and then helping them. The Syrians won’t have to travel across huge distances of sea in un sea-worthy boats and vast expanses of land to find a better place. They are displaced small amounts to neighbouring countries, where if we pour money into these camps to give them a better standard of living and quality of life then they can be close by to re-populate the region once the conflict has calmed down.
Are we really saying that the compassionate message we’re sending out is “risk your lives paying traffickers and smugglers to board an un sea-worthy boat that has little chance to reach its destination, then in the miracle that you do arrive in Europe, please travel enormous distances on foot with no food and water until you reach our doors. We will kindly let you in once you have overcome this simple task. But we won’t help you until you have done this.”? Surely not.
Is this the right attitude we should be approaching with and saying that we are being compassionate in our response? Often the answer isn’t clear cut and it’s not about people being “inhumane”. It’s about looking for long term answers that will stay around once the initial reaction has disappeared from the media.
13.2% of the international response to the Syrian Crisis has been funded by the UK government which is a huge chunk to pay considering how many other countries are involved. More focus should be put on this response which helps the camps in surrounding countries. This is the compassionate response.
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