It was recently announced that Kildare would take over 1,000 refugees in 2017 at a time when boats full of people from Syria, Iraq and Africa are drowning in the Mediterranean Sea. There are however, many people who do not agree with this decision. I would argue that Ireland as a whole is not doing enough for the Syrian refugees.
If we look at Lebanon which borders Syria in the west as a country of similar size and population to Ireland, it has taken 232 refugees (1.15 million) per 1,000. Ireland in contrast, is nowhere near that number. Game of Thrones star Liam Cunningham has been very vocal on Irelands work or lack of it in addressing this issue. After visiting the Za’atari refugee camp Jordan in recent months he was clearly moved. “Not so long ago when there was a famine in this country, there was a million and a half refugees from this place and if America had treated us the way we are treating the Syrians, where would we be now?” Cunningham stated.
Many people have also remarked on the homeless crisis which has become a large issue in Ireland. “We have to look after our own before we can consider others” seemed to be a recurring theme in the social media world. But I genuinely don’t believe these people realise what they are saying. In stark contrast to Syria, there are no children in Ireland facing what five year old Omar Daneesh (pictured below) had to face. Later, Omar would lose his brother, 10 year old Ali due to bombing from Russia and Al Assad (BBC). Ireland did have its own conflict with the troubles in Northern Ireland in the not so distant past but they are not even comparable with the devastating situation in Syria.
When people still argue that we should not take in more refugees I feel we have lost a sense of morality and forgotten our history as a nation. Many Irish have fled our country in desperate times and we need recognise and remember what we stand for as a people. The famine alone had catastrophic implications for our country where approximately one-quarter of the population totalling roughly 2.1 million people left between 1845 and 1855. As a nation of immigrants we need to welcome these people with open arms.
What can we do to help?
While a political solution to war in Syria still seems like an unlikely prospect anytime soon there are many ways we as a country can help. All donations large or small can help are very much appreciated by NGO’s and volunteer agencies. Locally, donations can be made to Kildare Volunteer Centre – (045) 449 156. The Hazelhatch Hotel in Monasterevin, County Kildare is currently housing many families and since August of 2016 has sheltered over 160 families. Clothes, buggies and other every-day items are much appreciated and needed for the families in the Hazelhatch Hotel. Additionally, the UN Refugee Agency, The International Red Cross, Oxfam and ActionAid to name but a few also take donations on their website in a very secure manner as they prepare for assisting people left behind in Syria for a harsh winter. People can also call or email local politicians and push for action quicker as the situation in Syria has become even more disastrous.
As the situation in Aleppo goes from bad to worse the Mayor of Syria has stated that “people are waiting to die. This is what’s happening,” Others on the ground stated,” Families got together awaiting death together.” Many people left behind have taken to social media to show the world what could be their last moments in an effort to push the international community into action.
The reality is so horrific in Syria and Iraq where the last time there was more refugees globally was after World War 2. As a country I feel we need to “step up” and take in as many people as we can and deal with any issues which may arise then. It is progress to get people from absolute poverty and mass murder in Syria to Ireland. Syrian people are people [sic] and deserve better.