Refugee Crisis: Not The New Normal

Posted by India Thorogood — 4 April 2016 at 3:00pm - Comments

The refugee crisis is still making the news, but as the tweets, comment pieces and protests die down, it’s easy to wonder if we’re becoming desensitised and numb to what we see. Are the sad faces squashed against boat and car windows, the babies in tatty lifejackets and sinking boats, becoming normal?

There was nothing normal about the world-awakening moment that 3 year old Aylan Kurdi washed up on a Turkish beach, that’s why it was splashed across our front pages. But nor is there anything normal about the deaths of 300 child refugees who’ve died at sea since then.

This death and suffering has been experienced first hand by over 100 Greenpeace staff and volunteers who’ve been working with Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in the Aegean sea. My colleagues have supported MSF in doing what our governments have all-out failed to - in just 4 months the two organisations have provided life-saving help to 18,117 people who were fleeing poverty, violence and oppression.

Now, having used our expertise at sea and our boats to strengthen their work, we are handing over full responsibility for rescuing refugees to MSF this week. But while we will no longer physically be there with them, our hearts remain with those risking life and limb fleeing for a better life and those trying to save them. We call for a safe passage for refugees across the world.

Now is not the time for people to turn their backs on refugees - in fact, it could have huge consequences if we do. Last week a UN expert advised that 480,000 Syrian children need to be resettled. Yet today the EU has sent the first boat of ‘rejected’ refugees back to Turkey, in what Human Rights Watch are calling ‘a day of shame.’ Do our leaders think that we’re desensitised - or even disinterested - in the refugee crisis?

Well, let’s show them that we’re not. As conflicts rage on in Syria, Libya, Yemen and countless other countries, we must refuse to let ourselves to become numb to the suffering of those who crave the kind of lives we can take for granted. So here’s two things you can do right now - donate to Doctors Without Borders and tweet or e-mail David Cameron asking for more UK support for refugees. Because we’re better than this.

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