I have had my next post to write here in my mind for the past couple days and had begun working on it this afternoon when I hopped on to facebook for the first time in almost a full day. I don’t know how frequently it is popping up for others, but with the number of friends I now have living here in Turkey, what I was seeing could not be put off. It would be irresponsible of me not to share what I have been seeing.
First of all, the good news. For a few days now, Iceland has been making the headlines and I have to stand up and applaud the kind and generous hearts of so many families there. A little over a week back, the government there announced that is was willing to take fifty Syrian Refugees. The people knew that they could do far batter than that and to date over twelve thousand families have said they are willing to open up their homes to host families with many more willing to help and serve in other ways. In response to this, the Prime Minister has created a new commission to see how many more it will actually take. I am definitely going to keep my eye on this. Iceland is definitely leading the way in showing the rest of the world that we don’t have to settle for the cautious conservatism of our governments that is bordering on criminal negligence in refusing to do more in what is one of the greatest needs on our planet today. On the flip side, we do not know how seriously the leadership there will listen and bend to the will of their people.
Now let the tears start falling…
This is Aylan Kurdi. He was a three year boy who was in a boat along with his five year old brother Galip, their mother Rihan, and at least nine other Syrian refugees. They had left Bodrum, Turkey for Kos, Greece. That is a sea voyage of about fourteen miles.
But their journey did not really begin in Bodrum. It started in Kobani, Syria last September. While the whole world looked on, the population of that city of about sixty thousand swelled as the surrounding area fell step by step into ISIS hands. When it looked like the city was doomed to fall, Abdullah Kurdi took his wife and children and joined over two hundred thousand Syrians in fleeing from Kobani to Suruç Turkey.
The Kurdi family was one family among many as over 1.9 million refugees have made Turkey their temporary or permanent home. For them, this home should have been temporary. Over twenty years earlier Abdullah’s sister, Teema Kurdi, had moved to Canada. She has since been living in Ottowa working as a hair stylist. When hearing of the plight of her brother and his family, Teema took all the necessary steps to sponsor them for moving to Canada. The problem is, the Turkish government refused to grant them exit visas. The UN refused to give them refugee status. And without these things, Canada refused to allow them in.
Aylan should never have been in that boat. The only reason he was is because they had run out of options. He is one of twelve refugees to wash back up on the shores of Bodrum. He is one of roughly three thousand refugees who have met such a fate in their desperate attempt to begin their life anew while the world continues to shut doors in their faces. He is one of two hundred thousand who all fled together over a couple days time from the terror of religious fanatics. He is one of 1.9 million such people who are refugees here in Turkey. He is one of over four million who have fled Syria and nine million Syrians who have fled their homes. But Alyan is not just a statistic. He is a life that matters cut short far too soon. I pray that he will be the face we can no longer ignore bringing about a change that is long, long overdue.