LETTER: There has to be an alternative

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Once again the flickering screen shows a small, lifeless body being dragged out of the pile of rubble, that is the ruins, of what was once, his shelter and his home.

Yet one more unknown casualty caught up in the endless war against terrorists, enemies, ISIS, the other. Just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Today the Russians, yesterday the Americans, tomorrow the British, no country can hold up their blood stained hands and cry, “How terrible, how obscene, it wasn’t us”. All are equally guilty of total inhumanity. And who are the manufacturers and the suppliers of the barrel bombs, the rockets, the guns? Who are the companies, firms, governments, facilitating the provision and making huge profits from this never ending carnage inflicted on innocent men, women and children?

Meanwhile, over 600 unaccompanied children, the youngest just eight years old, languish in the ‘jungle’ camps, on the other side of the channel. Children fleeing from just such horrors, housed in makeshift tents and huts, in a sea of mud. The biggest slum in Europe. No support, no advice, no education, no hope, vulnerable to exploitation and radicalisation. The threat of the little shelter they have, being bulldozed by the French authorities, at any moment, as they try to clear the ‘eyesore’, this ‘blot’ on the landscape. In Britain promises are made in Parliament and constantly broken. Our government promised to take in thousands of unaccompanied child refugees, so far, 20 have arrived. The media continually rants about refugees and migrants, scare stories and numbers. Yet these are human beings, who have given up and lost everything, to escape, in the hope of a better, safer, settled future.

“There is a group of children who are eligible, 35 miles away, living in a muddy field surrounded by every kind of danger. An act of parliament was passed, the UK authorities should act on it.”

Lily Caprani, from Unicef UK, said: “The UK government promised to resettle some of the most vulnerable unaccompanied children from Europe, yet this process is moving far too slowly. Each day that these children remain alone, is another day living in desperate conditions, at constant risk of violence, exploitation and abuse. It is vitally important that the UK government urgently speeds up the process for bringing eligible children here safely and legally.” And here comes the 6 o’clock news again. Another little, miracle child, being rescued from underneath the destroyed remains of her home, where the bodies of her entire family still lie, her mother, father, sisters, brothers. What thoughts, nightmares, memories, will this child take into the future? How will she grow up to trust the people, politicians and governments of the world and their promises, in the future? When at the tender age of five years old, she has been treated so cruelly and had everything she knows , loves and holds dear, snatched away in a moment.

When are we all going to say, “Stop, enough, there has to be an alternative”? When are we going to make demands on our governments, to act in an humanitarian fashion?.

A Syrian child today, could be our child tomorrow. How would we feel then? Surely mankind can achieve better than this?

Sue Mullins

West Sussex County Council (Lab, Gossops Green and Ifield East)

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