Does Rishi really care about Syria?
Today we were devastated to learn of the horrific destruction in Turkey and North-West Syria, and we have been hearing from some of the Syrian refugees we support about just how terrible the situation is.
North-West Syria is still riven by war. Many of the buildings were already weakened by bombing, so were more vulnerable to earthquakes. Freezing temperatures in Turkey will make it harder for victims to survive, and for rescuers to help them.
This region is one through which hundreds of thousands of Syrians have escaped the war, and where hundreds of thousands more now live in refugee camps. Gazentiep, the epicentre of the first of the two earthquakes, is a makeshift home for almost half a million displaced people. At this moment, their potential suffering is beyond imagination.
The primary human emotion can be only compassion for all those affected by this disaster, and our hearts go out to all the victims and their families.
But given the huge presence of refugees, we simply cannot ignore the rank hypocrisy of the UK Prime Minister’s offer of unconditional help.
“My thoughts are with the people of Türkiye and Syria this morning,” he tweeted today. “The UK stands ready to help in whatever way we can.”
Such offers of help sit awkwardly with his promise of new laws to ban refugees from coming to seek safety in the UK, but the double standard being exposed here is worse than that.
It is almost certain that some of the very people affected will consider travelling to the UK to ask for help. Given the number of Syrians served with Rwanda notices, it is not unlikely that our Government’s ‘help’ would be deportation to Central Africa should they defeat the legal challenges against their brutal policy.
True, we cannot know how many would find themselves in this position. But that is not the point.
The point is this government’s arbitrary distinctions between “deserving” victims of tragedies, and “invaders” who have the temerity to claim asylum.
Stay where you are and suffer, and you’ll get pretty words and, who knows, maybe even a bit of aid. Try to escape it, and you’re a threat to be disposed of.
We need to stop seeing the world as a series of unconnected disasters and conflicts, and instead focus on the individual people affected by them; only then will we give people from places like war-torn Syria the help they really need.
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