The Gulf States are defecating gold, but can’t offer relief to Syrian refugees?
The first time I came across these images I was overcome with grief. Later, the sadness was replaced by outrage, but the tears continued to flow. Strangely, all I can do now is remark on how beautiful this toddler is, even in death.
His name was Aylan Kurdi and according to CNN he was only two-years-old. He, along with his four-year-old brother, Galip, and mother Rehen, drowned after their boat capsized near the Greek island of Kos. This family of refugees was trying to find their way to Canada.
“I was holding my wife’s hand. My children slipped away from my hands. We tried to hold on to the boat. Everyone was screaming in pitch darkness. I couldn’t make my voice heard to my wife and kids.”
Take a moment to put yourself in this father’s shoes. What would provoke a man to risk the lives of his wife and two little ones? How could a perilous journey across the ocean, where you are as insignificant as an ant on a pond, be worth the jeopardy?
What sort of hell would force you to travel through the abyss to escape the devil himself?
The answer is the civil war in Syria.
Reportedly, the five year battle has killed 0.25 million people, and left 10 million people displaced.
Every time you think of Aylan, you have to realise that he is but one of the countless refugees caught in a bloody civil war where innocent people are being murdered, raped, burned, and tortured.
At this moment in time, there are traumatised children growing up who have known nothing but conflict and suffering. To them, the world is only explosions, gunfire, screaming, horror, fear, and scarcity of food and water.
For these kids, life isn’t about toys, treats, and joy. No, for them, life is about survival.
A report from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) claims that there are nearly 60 million refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs). An article from The Atlantic says of the 60 million refugees, a third come from Iraq and Syria.
Nations in Europe are bearing the brunt of the blame for not providing a safe haven to these people who risk their life and limb to get there, and there are talks of long term solutions for resolving this crisis, but the best long term solution would be to somehow end this war. Unfortunately, every side in Syria has blood on their hands.
Bashar al-Assad’s cruel government in Syria is committing war crime after war crime according to Amnesty International. The latest horror is the use of barrel bombs, air strikes, and torture cells, all targeting civilians.
According to an excerpt from an ABC report,
“This week, Syrian government warplanes dropped four rockets on a crowded marketplace in Douma, just outside the capital Damascus killing over 100 people. Just a few hours after the attack, I sat in the ABC Middle East bureau and watched camera phone footage of its immediate aftermath. It was horrific. A desperate man rushed through the dust, carrying a bloodied child over his shoulder. Dozens of dead bodies lay on the ground amongst blown out buildings and destroyed market stalls. The children are the worst part. Their tiny bodies caught up in a horrific game the adults have been playing.”
The rebel forces, while cleaner than Assad, have also committed their share of war crimes. Then there is ISIS, a special breed of evil, who take sick pleasure in the documentation of their cruelty. Only June, this year, it was reported that they executed 74 children for ‘practicing magic’ and not fasting during Ramazan.
If you wonder why Abdullah risked the life of Aylan, it is because thousands of other Aylans died brutal deaths in Syria. Abdullah wanted to give his family a better life, and crossing the ocean on a fragile dingy boat presented a greater chance of survival than living in Syria.
Europe is finally creaking open its door a little more for the refugees. Following Germany’s lead, the United Kingdom has agreed to accept more, but the real question is why the refugees aren’t heading towards the affluent Gulf States? If my house was on fire, would I not turn to my neighbour rather than run barefoot to another town in the black of the night?
Unfortunately, the Gulf States do not want them.
While the Syrian refugees are being welcomed into Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, the rich Arab nations have put barriers in place so that these desperate people fail to pass the visa process. This arrogant and inhumane policy is far from surprising considering the human rights violations faced by expatriates with blue collar jobs in the Middle East.
It is a pity that the Gulf States have the wealth to build extravagant skyscrapers, import limited edition designer sports cars, and drink extraordinarily expensive gold dusted coffee which allows them the novelty of defecating gold, but they lack the resources to offer relief to the Syrian refugees. Clearly, the fat cats in the Middle East would rather have a gold speckled bowel movement than help their blood smeared neighbours in need.
It’s also perplexing how so many international media outlets insist on calling these refugees, migrants. Like any euphemism, this incorrect terminology only dilutes the gravity of their situation. They aren’t migrants, for a migrant is a person who willingly travels to another country for better working and living conditions. No, these people have been forced to flee their homeland because of a calamity. They are refugees. Let’s use the correct terminology.
Let’s not use words which soften the blow only to protect our own feelings, while countless die unimaginably horrible deaths.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.