The searing images of three-year-old Alan Kurdi have moved through cyberspace and galvanized reaction around the world. People everywhere are shocked and saddened in witnessing the tragedy of a little boy who will never live the long, healthy, happy life he deserved.
For Canadians, there are layers and hard questions that go further than our basic human response of sorrow. That’s because Alan Kurdi’s family could and should have been in Canada by now. Beginning a new life far away from the destruction and horror of Syria’s savage implosion.
But instead of a new life in Canada, the Kurdi family has found the fate that has needlessly befallen too many thousands of desperate people; lost and too often forgotten. While some European countries are now opening their arms and their borders with grace and generosity, so much more needs be done. Including right here in Canada.
A meaningful solution would result in the rapid resettlement of refugees in Canada. To date, the numbers of those successfully resettled in Canada are shockingly low, especially in the context of the gravity and magnitude of the crisis. Canada has only admitted approximately 1,500 Syrian refugees to date after promising to allow 11,300 in the final pre-election Parliamentary session.
A meaningful solution would ensure that the more than four million refugees living in neighbouring countries can access humanitarian aid: the UN World Food Program recently cut their food rations in Lebanon from $19 to $13.50 per family for one month.
A meaningful solution would be to help the more than seven million people displaced from their homes inside Syria who so far haven’t been able to escape and now live in the midst of war and depravity.
The Canadian government has provided significant aid through the UN and others. But, a meaningful solution requires all of us to see our common humanity in this tragedy so that we may act in solidarity with the people of Syria. As we see the same basic human rights and needs in Syrian families, who are no different than our own families, we then must do whatever we can to help; whether that’s supporting an organization like Oxfam, assisting or volunteering with a local resettlement organization or simply asking our leaders to lead with grace, power and generosity.
And, of course, a meaningful solution requires the immediate end to the ongoing brutality that forces people to flee their homes. Oxfam has been campaigning and advocating for a political solution since the beginning of the conflict while at the same time providing food, water and shelter to over one million. We continue to press for an immediate cease-fire and call for all parties to the conflict to cease arms transfers and guarantee humanitarian access to the devastated region.