I’ve been troubled by the refugee crisis for some time now. News bulletins were reporting on hundreds of people dead on a boat somewhere in the middle of the sea, yet it seemed like nobody batted an eyelid. Because they were refugees. They weren’t like us. They couldn’t be us. All the talk on the street seemed to be of preventing them from getting to the UK – let them go to France, Greece, Germany or Italy. Anywhere but here.
But these are people. Human beings. Men, women and children.
People like us.
And still there were more boats, more people suffocating on lorries, more people squeezing onto trains already dangerously full, more people walking hundreds of miles, carrying their children and what little possessions they had.
I can’t begin to understand the situation in Syria, but all I do know is people wouldn’t put their children’s lives at risk on an overcrowded boat, unless staying where they were was putting them at even greater risk. They want a better life for their children.
They don’t want ‘our’ jobs and ‘our’ benefits. They don’t want to be driving a BMW (as some idiot on the news suggested they would be doing in a few months). They just want to keep their children safe. They want enough food to eat and to live somewhere where they have a roof over their heads and can live without fear of persecution.
Is that too much to ask for our fellow human beings?
Earlier this week, the tide of opinion started to turn. When 3 year old Aylan Kurdi washed up on a Turkish beach, the realisation hit so many more people. Pictures of his tiny body are the most distressing anyone is likely to see all year. Nobody wants to see them, but seeing them has changed so many opinions.
These really are human beings and children, just like our own, who are dying in desperate circumstances.
We really must do something to help Syria’s children. Now.
So what can we do?
We can sign petitions. We can give money (if we have it). We can give time (if we have it). We can give stuff.
The easiest way to donate is by texting SYRIA to 70008 to donate £5.
Look in your local media to find out about collections to help the refugees in Calais. Give your time to help them or donate things you no longer need. The sorts of things they are looking for are:
- Shoes/ trainers (practical ones, no high heels)
- Trousers/ jeans
- Underwear (women’s underwear must be able to accommodate sanitary protection)
- Hats, gloves and scarfs
- Sleeping bags
- Wooden pallets
- Canvas sheets
- Toothbrush/ toothpaste
- Shaving foam
- Wide-tooth comb
- Tinned food
- Cooking oil
- Mobile phones
The time to stop children dying is now. We can all do our bit to save Syria’s children.