The world can do better

What this refugee crisis in Europe has brought to light is the unwillingness and unpreparedness of many European countries.

What this refugee crisis in Europe has brought to light is the unwillingness and unpreparedness of many European countries – and other developed nations – to deal with this issue.

What some are calling the greatest refugee crisis since World War Two has been tainted by indifference and dangerous attitudes toward refugees.

Hungary has been in the spotlight after razor-wire fences were built to prevent refugees from crossing the borders illegally. Furthermore, Hungarian authorities have been preventing refugees from boarding trains heading west. The country has been facing increasing pressure to change its approach to the refugee crisis.

Government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs told CNN’s “The World Right Now” the lack of documentation was a key issue for authorities. “That’s one major problem we have to face: that these people, at least to the Hungarian border, came without papers, or got rid of papers, and at the end of the day it’s basically impossible to determine whether they are telling the truth that they are coming from Syria or other war zones,” he told CNN.

And of course, this would all be perfectly acceptable had these refugees not been starving, desperate and some even dying. Referring to people who escaped war zones as “illegal migrants” is amoral at best. These people have not voluntarily moved in the search of wealthier lives; they have fled because they were scared for their lives. That’s why many people have also criticized the media for using the word “migrants” as opposed to “refugees.” Some say the word “migrant” implies something voluntary and should not be applied to people fleeing danger.

Syria, which makes up the largest group of refugees, has been dealing with a civil war since the uprising against president Bashar al-Assad in March 2011. It is estimated that more than 240,000 people have been killed so far, and around half of Syria’s population have fled their homes. What these people have been going through are real horror stories. Just imagine the level of desperation of a father who decided to take his children on a boat for days without food or water, risking their lives and not knowing exactly where they would end up, or if they would be safe once they reached their destination.

All the wealth and stability that developed countries have achieved over the years mean absolutely nothing if they allow hungry and terrified families to perish.

This is a global crisis and we should all be paying attention to it. Furthermore, we need to challenge our leaders to do more. Here in Canada, both the NDP and Liberals have said the federal government needs to do more to address this situation.

“Hundreds of thousands of people fleeing horrors: We’ve got to step up to the plate, we’ve got to be part of an international solution, we’ve got to start doing our fair share,” NDP leader Tom Mulcair told CBC.

Justin Trudeau told CBC that Canada would, under a Liberal government, take in 25,000 Syrian refugees.

After the Icelandic government announced they would only accept 50 refugees this year, more than 11,000 Icelanders offered to take Syrian refugees into their homes. After this (amazing) gesture of kindness, the Icelandic government said they were looking into increasing the country’s refugee quota. The main issue seems to be that many people fear refugees could steal their jobs or threaten their culture. However, the total number of refugees in Europe is 3.1 million, not even one per cent of its population, according to MacLean’s Magazine. The world has enough resources and manpower to solve this crisis; and the world can certainly do better.