One Million Refugees

Ever since the U.N. released its assessment of the situation, I have been haunted by the thought that one million Syrian children are now refugees. One million! We can either view that as a dismal statistic (which it is) or translate it into a million individual lives, a million different faces.

I have never been a refugee myself, but I have known a few people who, for one reason or another, have had to flee their country of origin or, worse still, been forced out of their homeland. It has made me realise that one can only be a citizen of the world if one is sure that one belongs to one particular part of it. We should be very concerned for the children of Syria. Even if all their material needs are met (which I am rather doubtful about), their need for that sense of belonging, for peace and security, for all that makes them Syrian rather than anything else, is much more difficult of attainment. No doubt another tragedy will soon grip the headlines and they will be forgotten by all but a relative few. Who now thinks of ‘displaced persons’ the world over who have spent ten, twenty, even more years in refugee camps? I think we should ask ourselves what it does to someone’s soul to be a refugee. How many of the West’s current fears, for example, are traceable to our ignoring or underestimating the effect of a refugee existence on the expansion of radical Islam?

The situation in Syria, and the situation of refugees from Syria, concerns us all. What we do about it is another matter. The suspicion that chemical warfare is now being used may prompt some nations to military intervention. Let us pray for wisdom and prudence and in the meantime do what we can to help those who are suffering. If that seems to you pathetically weak and inadequate, could it be because we have missed opportunities in the past? If so, let us resolve to try not to miss them in the future.

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