The refugees: a fading crisis?

After the recent controversy surrounding the refugee crisis, media coverage and public debate seem to be falling flat. Are the refugees being forgotten about?

On September 2nd, an image was released to the public of a young boy; face down on the shore of a beach in the resort town of Bodrum. This boy was named Alyan Kurdi. The image immediately took the Internet by storm and questions were raised as to why nothing was being done about the impending refugee crisis. In 2015, over 4,000,000 refugees have fled Syria alone. Out of these 4,000,000 refugees, only 5,000 are currently residing within the UK. Even more shockingly, recent reports have introduced controversy as to whether this number is in fact accurate with recent reports saying that numbers are closer to 180.

In a recent appeal to the public, actor Benedict Cumberbatch stated, “You have to understand that no one puts children on a boat unless the water is safer than the land.” Looking back at how the disturbing images of Kurdi were so widely circulated by the media within such a short space of time, is it safe to say that the public is slowly losing interest in the issue?

Some would argue not that the general public is not losing interest but in fact growing more concerned with the issue being addressed by celebrities such as Cumberbatch and Angelina Jolie.

Another factor pointed out by Cumberbatch was the likelihood of many refugees not surviving the harsh winter weather. As much as this problem is trying to be tackled by charity organisations such as Human Appeal and Save the Children, it is still a outrageous issue that needs to be addressed and tackled by our governments.

David Cameron announced earlier on this autumn that he would allow for 20,000 refugees to enter the UK between 2015 and 2020. This is only a small fraction of the total number of refugees. Since his announcements, petitions have been introduced by social activists who question Cameron’s unsympathetic stance on the matter. He has responded by saying, “careful consideration will be given to the number of refugees allowed in the UK.”

Approximately 87 per cent of Syrian requests for asylum within the UK have been granted whereas countries such as Germany and Serbia have welcomed refugees in their thousands. Cumberbatch also pointed out in his speech that, “you only run for the border when you see the whole city running as well”.

Over the months, images have been circulating social media websites such as Twitter and Facebook of Syria before the war. The images show a beautiful country, with peace, austerity, freedom and least of all no fear. Looking at images of the same country now, it is appalling to see the condition it is in. Again, it raises the question as to why nothing more is being done by our government?

One story in particular stood out to me. It was of a blind Syrian man and a Turkish migrant who worked together in the city of Damascus. One of the men was unable to walk while the other was blind. Syrian locals tell the story of how these two men grew an unbreakable bond. They tell us of how this story shows the depiction of Syria, a country of loyal and honest people.

Cardiff University itself has a ‘Student Action for Refugees’ society who gather regularly to meet refugees and allow students to enhance in their communication skills so that they are able to provide a comfortable environment for them. Members of the society have said this heart-warming experience allows them to gain a better understanding of the situation and allow for the refugees to settle in to the country and the dramatic cultural change. Small acts like this can make a huge impact on the life of a refugee and their family without you even realising it.

It is clear that although more needs to be done by our government, more needs to be done by society at the same time to make sure this problem is not forgotten about or ignored. Amnesty International’s, Salil Shetty, has said: “the EU has miserably failed to play its part in providing a safe haven to the refugees who have lost all their lives.” Despite the poor performance on behalf of our government and others, we still have the power to change and improve this situation.