I watched my three year old great grandson, enjoying a trip to the park. He ran on the grass, climbed a tree, collected fir cones, all the things that three year olds enjoy, with a smile on their face.
The next day I picked up my newspaper, to see the horrifying image of a similar little boy, lying lifeless in the arms of a policeman, on a popular holiday beach in Turkey.
I asked myself the question. What would drive me to take that irrevocable step, of paying every penny I had left, and putting my family into a flimsy overloaded boat, at night, at the mercy of an unforgiving sea. Would it be when my workplace closed down, leaving me with no income to support my family? Would it be when the schools closed down and it was no longer safe for my children to walk to school? Would it be when the shops barely opened and then had hardly anything to sell? Would it be when my house was shelled for the third time, as we sheltered under the stairs, my children screaming with fear? Would it be when there was no longer heating, or electricity, or running water available? When my daughter, or wife, was casually raped by passing soldiers, or my sons just shot and left dead in the street? Maybe I had already escaped once and had spent months existing in a dirty, noisy, insanitary, holding camp, somewhere on a border, homeless, stateless, unwanted?
How can we begin to comprehend, what it takes to make another human being leave their country, their home, their family and friends, everything that’s loved and familiar, and take such a desperate chance for a better life?
That father watched his wife and children die in front of him, in the icy waters of the sea, when the craft capsized. He has lost everything and has to carry the knowledge, for the rest of his life, that taking that decision, ended in tragedy for his whole family. His pain is just the same as ours would be at this bitter loss. Yet, he is just one of the estimated 60 million refugees there are currently, in this, so called modern world. Meanwhile successive governments, in this country, have failed to find any solutions to the chaos and turmoil that has arisen in the Middle East.
Much of it, I am ashamed to say, because of our, and other rich nations, thirst for and wish to control oil and the natural resources of the world.
This has led to continual wars, dictatorships, disruption, poverty and the displacement of millions of people, across the world.
And what is our newly elected Tory Government’s answer? Pull up the drawbridge, shut them out.
Where is our humanity? What sort of world are we building?
It is a question of morality and we should all be demanding that our leaders do everything in their power to help and support the relief of such terrible suffering.
Cllr Sue Mullins, West Sussex County Council (Lab, Gossops Green and Ifield East)
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