This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Syrian Refugee Conundrum

"My counsel would still be to the prime minister [Justin Trudeau] that we ought to just suspend the [December 31] deadline [for Syrian refugee intake]. We don't have to stop the initiative, but we shouldn't be working toward a deadline."
"Let's just make sure we're driven ... to ensure good settlement results for the refugees themselves in the communities to which they're moving -- and also from a security perspective."
Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall

"There's no way [the government can meet a Dec.31 deadline] without shortcuts]."
"If they don't do [all] the processing abroad and end up doing  it in Canada, like we did with the Kosovars, there is a risk because once they're in Canada, quite frankly it's too late."
"[If a terrorist arrives in Canada], he will disappear and end up in the woodwork and the next time we hear of him, either here or in the States, will be because he's been nabbed or because of some other violent act that will make it all apparent that a mistake was made."
Gerard Van Kessel, former director-general Canada's refugee resettlement program
A refugee, holding his son and daughter, cries tears of joy after their boat arrived on the Greek island of Kos on Saturday, August 15. The island in the Aegean Sea has been overwhelmed by Syrian refugees. More than 744,000 refugees and migrants have escaped to Europe this year, the U.N. refugee agency said. Click through to see images from the migration crisis in Europe.
A refugee, his son and daughter, arrive on the Greek island of Kos -- CNN

It seems now that the new Canadian Liberal government which had pledged during the recent election that it would commit to taking in 25,000 Syrian refugees before the end of 2015 has not been dissuaded from that line of action. The soberingly fearful attacks that took place in Paris aside, with the message that two to three of the attackers had infiltrated refugees streaming into Europe through Greece, the new government is determined to proceed with its election promise.

It normally takes an average of two years to process refugee applications; in some instances when the need is urgent, that time is pared down considerably, but always for far lesser numbers than that committed to by this new government determined to do things far differently than their predecessors did, although in actual fact, the previous Conservative government had announced a similar number of refugees to be taken in, but over a much more reasonable length of time. The Liberal government has extended the time-frame to February of 2016.

Security concerns have been highlighted, sufficiently so that the Canadian public feels great unease at the prospect of that many refugees being brought into the country on such short notice. It is a given that they will all require medical assistance of some kind; preliminary medical checks aside and that alone will be costly in time and funding to an already overburdened public health care system. Their need for housing, for food, for language assistance and social orientation all bespeak a deep and broad commitment by both government and private sponsoring groups.

The focus, it now appears, will be on the most vulnerable of the refugees among the millions who are languishing in refugee camps in Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan. Women and children and families are given priority, and so are single, gay men. There is no conversation on whether they should be Christians escaping murderous persecution, or Yazidis who have been targeted the same, or Sunni Muslims running from a murderous Shiite tyranny. These are people living in a culture and a society that is unforgivingly inhumane.

Syrian Christians and Yazidis and gay men tend to try to separate themselves from Muslim groups because even in the refugee camps they represent a persecuted and threatened minority. In an effort to protect themselves these minorities try to remain out of the refugee camps. And of course, there lies the rub; mainstream Sunni Syrian refugees while themselves being among the oppressed and the persecuted turn around and vent their hatred on the others among them who are not of them, and this traditional enmity is migrating with them.

The political pressure for tight security in absorbing refugees from among the teeming tide of Syrians in camps awaiting a hoped-for return of some semblance of normalcy in their lives and the harrowing conditions in which they live after having fled barbaric assaults on their humanity call for action from other people whose lives have never been tarnished by such degrees of human depravity. Yet in doing so, there's a gamble that all being absorbed will be innocent of being a part of the problem.

Photo essay: "Where Syrian refugee children sleep" by Magnus Wennman, an award-winning photojournalist from Stockholm

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