People all over the world were horrified last week when they saw the picture of a dead Syrian child, Aylan Kurdi, being picked up from the beach in Turkey. His family’s attempt to escape the brutal civil war in their country had ended in tragedy.

From Calais to Kos to Lampedusa, the blogging community has been following the refugee crisis in Europe — as well as the conflicts that feed it — as it rapidly escalated over the past two years, and especially this past summer. Here are some of the most powerful voices we’ve come across weighing in on this massive humanitarian disaster.

A Letter from One Mother to Another

In a post full of tragic irony, a writer contrasts the plight of a refugee mother with the sanctimonious complaints of a mother who’s safe at home with her kids:

Dear Irresponsible Migrant Mother,

What exactly were you thinking when you woke your children in the dead of the night, picking up the baby still asleep? Don’t you know how important it is for children to get enough sleep?

[…]

That baby you’re holding needs to be warm and comfortable, cocooned and safe, like a tiny bud, waiting to bloom in the morning. Those toddlers won’t be able to walk the miles you want them to in the black night in worn out shoes without a good night’s sleep.

A Dispatch from a Syrian Refugee Camp

Lionel Beehner visited the Zaatari refugee camp, in Jordan, back in 2013. He described the chaotic scene he’d encountered there in vivid detail, and his dispatch is even more haunting today, seeing that the plight of Syrian refugees has grown dramatically worse in the past two years.

Photo by Lionel Beehner.

Heading Off into the Refugee Tragedy in the Med

Ali Criado-Perez is a registered nurse who has worked with Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders since 2007. She recently took off for a rescue mission in Malta, one of the Mediterranean islands that sees the highest numbers of refugee boats off its shores. Here are some of her words on the eve of her departure:

I don’t know exactly what lies ahead of me. I hope I’m prepared, physically and mentally, for this trip. I’ve done a fairly arduous sea-safety training, which entailed me leaping from a height into water, dressed in a survival suit, and clambering into a wobbly life-raft. But I don’t think anything — not even seeing people dying miserably from Ebola — can prepare one for finding 52 people dead in the hold from asphyxiation, as my colleagues did recently.

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