Whether or not Europe is the bad guy is not what will help the thousands of refugees trying to survive 

A recent photograph of a Syrian child found drowned on Turkish shores caused a public outcry and outrage on the humanitarian crisis currently underway in Syria, forcing many families to flee to Europe where however, the consequences of negligence or outright rejection in the face of bitter desperation and suffering, are causing some heavy criticism.

A recent article posted by Vice on Facebook: ‘The Image That Shames Europe’, blaming Europe for the tragedy, prompted many angry comments, ascribing the blame instead on ISIS, Assad, neighbouring Arab countries, or the US. Here are some responses:

‘This is actually heartbreaking. People blaming Europe for this happening are clearly uneducated on what is actually happening in the world. It’s not even the country they have fled from that’s to blame. ISIS is to blame, they have taken over, destroyed and abused everything in their path. This image is shocking and disturbing but it really shows the lengths people go to to try and leave somewhere they once called home to try for a new life’.

‘More to the point, it shames Syria’s Assad. He could’ve prevented [all] of this from happening’.

‘Shame Europe ?? Our gates and hard-earned money have been used to help for many years. What an insult this article is. Maybe some of the richest countries in the world (Saudi Arabia, UAE, Oman) who border these countries could help!! Strange how the same “crisis” isn’t happening there’.

‘The image that shames America, no? They’re the F****** idiots who unsettled the region in the first place and now it’s Europe who gets blamed???’

Surely, to find a successful long-term solution, it is necessary to look at the primary cause and source of the issue. However, does this matter when dealing with such urgent human agony and despair? If, while walking down the street, you see a woman who has just been raped asking you for help, do you leave her to her own fate simply because you were not the primary perpetrator of the abuse? Or because others before you have ignored her cry? If so, doesn’t that make you equally guilty of negligence or rejection in the face of human anguish?

By diverting our attention on who’s to blame we’re focusing less on how to find solutions for the need to provide urgent relief. Refugees are not the cause of their own suffering; they are fleeing from a situation that exists through no fault of their own. As this has been established, aid for the innocent is paramount.

Of course, this is only a short-term solution, as it tries to ameliorate a consequence of a much deeper issue. However, one solution does not exclude the other; we can focus on discussing the primary causes of such a disastrous human crisis while also finding emergency relief for those seeking help. However, we must prioritize one over the other. If we wish to give equal value to each life, the second is the most urgent. We should be focusing on how Europe, regardless of other countries that are acting negligent, can be exemplary to the world in the face of a humanitarian crisis.

While the Vice article, blaming Europe for the tragic suffering, clearly ignores the complexity of the issue, pointing fingers right now is subsidiary to saving lives. We must first find the means to help those seeking urgent relief, and then find constructive, long-term solutions on the ways this crisis could be resolved by grasping its root cause. In the same way, before one starts to investigate the possible perpetrators of a crime to prevent it from reoccurring, one first seeks help and protection for its victim.

While it is right to argue that in order to stop this crisis from unfolding indefinitely we must find out how it occurred in the first place, so as to tackle its root cause, this essential step will do nothing to help the thousands fleeing Syria today. It will take some time before a permanent solution can be formulated, implemented and furthermore, proven to be successful. And while that happens, thousands will lose their lives.

Focusing on the most urgent need is paramount if we seek to give equal value to each life. The sooner a viable solution is implemented across Europe to help the struggling refugees, the sooner we can start discussing the origins of this crisis and how to resolve it for good.

 

Sources:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/05/world/middleeast/exodus-of-syrians-highlights-political-failure-of-the-west.html?smid=fb-nytimes&smtyp=cur&_r=0

https://news.vice.com/article/shocking-images-of-drowned-boy-spark-anger-as-europe-disagrees-over-migrant-crisis?utm_source=Facebook&utm_campaign=viceuk&utm_medium

For the actual article posted on Facebook from Vice with comments see Vice Facebook page