Monday 26 September 2016

The refugee crisis must spark the pursuit of a more just world

Published 07/09/2015 | 02:30

Tragedy: the plight of refugees
Tragedy: the plight of refugees

The mounting refugee tragedy unfolding before our eyes is an alarm call, not just for Europe but for the United Nations. The international community needs to focus on how best to accommodate these traumatised and courageous people and identify and remove the causes of conflict exacerbation, so that hope can grow that their homelands can be made peaceful and habitable again.

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Voters in the West need to recognise fully the part that our countries have played in the evolution of the long-unfolding calamity.

Did their representatives at the UN make any effort to gain support for concerted action to restrain the politically influential power strategists and the arms dealers of the world, who make fortunes exploiting division and providing their vile products to men in conflict, often arming both sides in succession or even at once?

Did we turn an indifferent eye to the deaths of an estimated 200,000 Iraqi children caused by Western sanctions? Did we rail at the deaths of many thousands more entirely innocent civilians by allied bombings?

Did we actively question the official motives and justification for the bombing of Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Libya? What part did such actions play in the more recent, furious and savage rise of Isil?

Those who took the largest part in the ridiculously dubbed 'war on terror' seem to be the very ones doing least to help the desperate families fleeing the hellish disaster zones, while weak countries such as Greece struggle to cope.

It appears that the UK is actually resisting the EU-wide quota plan. Has the splendidly protected USA offered to take its proportionate share of war refugees or will its foreign involvement in these countries turn out to be a paranoid and cynical one-way street? What quotas will the UN encourage other players, such as Russia and Saudi Arabia, to take?

There has been an outpouring of sympathy and heartwarming offers from many people to help and accommodate refugees.

I hope this movement grows, along with a new and positive determination of men and women of goodwill everywhere to engage in raising the levels of understanding and reconciliation in every community and to vote for more enlightened politicians, so that whatever is possible can be done to rebuild destroyed infrastructure in the war zones and find a new, informed path to peace and justice.

Rosie Cargin

The Grove,

Compass Hill,

Kinsale, Co Cork

What price Christian 'values'?

The Hungarian prime minister, Viktor Orbán, responding to the terrified refugees fleeing civil war and the horrors of Islamic State, said that we must defend our borders against such refugees, so as to protect Christian values.

However, I would argue that if our 'values' involve slamming the door on such people, then they are neither Christian nor valuable.

Nick Park

Executive Director

Evangelical Alliance Ireland

Foley Street, Dublin

The priority now must be peace

It is time for a fundamental review of governments' policies towards Syria. There seems to have been little or no movement towards negotiations for a long time.

The United States and Russia, working together, can enforce a ceasefire between Assad and the moderate rebels.

Perhaps the main reason there has been no movement in that direction for so long is the de facto position of the US, backed by the UK, that Bashar al-Assad cannot be involved in talks about the future of Syria and must step down.

Assad is refusing to quit, so negotiations are impossible.

The condition that Assad must go has to be dropped and urgent negotiations to bring about a ceasefire must be started.

Given the powerful influence of Russia, the US and their regional allies, including the power to cut off arms supplies, they can enforce a ceasefire in Syria.

When that has been achieved, the destruction of Isil in Syria can begin in circumstances which ensure they are not replaced by other bloodthirsty fanatics.

When Isil has been eradicated, there should be a Marshall Plan organised for Syria.

Brendan O'Brien

Winchmore Hill

London

An open door is not the answer

The death of a child moved the world and so it should; we all see the face of our own child in that moving picture and feel the horror and despair of the father.

But rather than a knee-jerk reaction to the plight of the refugees, governments should go straight to the root of the problem and plan a long-term strategy to deal with the issues concerned.

Using Europe as an ongoing safety net for governments that have reneged on their own responsibilities and have effectively turned their backs on their own people will worsen the situation, not resolve it.

Most refugees want to stay in their own country, provided it's safe to do so, and the Arab governments have a huge responsibility to ensure that they work in order to achieve stability in the region.

Flooding Europe with more refugees whose culture, religion and language are not an easy fit, will only cause more turmoil.

Europe and the US should redouble their efforts to eradicate Isil - and the Arab states themselves, who incidentally are some of the richest countries in the world, should work to overthrow the corrupt Syrian regime, which will allow the Syrian people to thrive in their own country.

Yes, Europe has a responsibility and should do everything that it can to relocate genuine refugees, but this is only a short-term fix until the Arab states themselves sort out a long-term solution.

Eugene McGuinness

Bishop Birch Place

Kilkenny

Human freedom is indivisible

Franklin Roosevelt in 1941 spoke of the four freedoms: freedom from fear, freedom from war, freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

These concepts are not limited to one nation, nor to one time period. These concepts are universal human rights.

The refugees who are now enduring horrendous hardships on their long struggle to safety are seeking above all else these four freedoms.

The history of the people of Europe has also been that of a long, arduous struggle to achieve such freedoms.

How can we do anything less than everything possible to help those striving against severe adversity to achieve basic human rights?

Dan Donovan

Shandon Street

Dungarvan

Co Waterford

Irish Independent

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