The Syrian and Other Refugees – A Follow-Up

Since my last column on the crisis of the refugees, the tragedy has garnered even more coverage, ranging from the deeply humanitarian to outrageously bigoted and mean-spirited.

The satirists and comedians have given us some of the most insightful perspectives on world issues.  British comedian John Oliver gave us one of his best performances in not only showing the very good and very bad of the Syrian refugee crisis, but also putting on a very human face on it by focusing on a lovely Syrian teen girl named Noujain Mustaffa.  Oliver then “resurrected” her favorite soap opera character in a brilliantly re-created dialog.  Half the refugees are children, many at risk of losing out on their education in addition to their childhood.

Of course, the big news has been the visit of Pope Francis to the United States.  He gave several impassioned speeches; the one I wish to share is the one he gave in Washington, DC.  Children, immigrants, and refugees were much on the mind of the Pontiff when he said, “We, the people of this continent, are not fearful of foreigners, because most of us were once foreigners,” adding “We must resolve now to live as nobly and as justly as possible, as we educated new generations not to turn their back on our ‘neighbors’ and everything around us.”

Melissa Fleming, of the UNHCR, last year presented the plight the Syrian refugees; their case has grown even more desperate since then.  She talked about the urgent need to educate the children, “so they can look to the future rather than relive the nightmare of their past.”

The White House and President Obama have set up a page, AidRefugees.gov.  In addition, US AID has a Web page on what we can do, including writing President Obama and other elected representatives.  You can also leave a message as to actions you have taken on behalf of the refugees.  Public Radio International (PRI) has a very informative page.  Children can help their peers through Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF.  We must speak out against the ugly racism so many people are purveying in public and counter with love and compassion, to do what we can to help these fine and innocent people.

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