The debate around how to help Syrian refugees, fleeing a vicious civil war and Islamic State terrorism, has become something of a political debate in Canada. It’s to be expected that, in the run-up to next month’s federal election, various parties would make various claims on the best approach.
But this is beyond politics. The recent publication of the photo that went around the world – that of drowned three-year-old Syrian refugee Alan Kurdi – is ample evidence of that.
Canadians are compassionate people and there is ample precedent for helping those in need. We need only recall 35 years ago, when thousands of Vietnamese “boat people” were taken in by this country.
Compassion has to supersede politics in this matter – perhaps in all matters – and while Syria is currently the cause du jour (despite unrest dating back to 2011) spurred on largely by heart-wrenching stories such as Alan’s, it is important to remember that there are almost always causes, locally and across the globe, that deserve our attention long after the outrage dies down and the public moves on to the next issue.
We can look beyond the migrant crisis in Europe to any number of countries that would benefit from the aid and compassion of Canadians. And it is right and good that we continue to do what we can.
That compassion is what led South Surrey mothers Azra Mann and Salma Wahdan to spearhead an effort to help displaced Syrian refugees in Mann’s home country of Serbia. Mann is in Serbia this week, and will return again next month in an effort to feed and house as many refugees as they can afford to help.
As she says, they might not be able to help the majority of the Syrian families fleeing violence and unrest, but they can do their part to help some, and such efforts are commendable.
The status of refugees, and Canada’s responsibility in assisting them, is deservedly in the spotlight. And local organizations – and individuals – that are doing their part deserve our accolades, especially as many of them were doing the hard work to support refugees for years, long before the issue was thrust into the spotlight.