The heartbreaking photo of Aylan Kurdi continues to touch the hearts of people around the globe. But the reaction needed at this point is from the government officials who have the power to stop another Syrian child from drowning while travelling for refuge.
United Kingdom Prime Minister David Cameron is expected to announce that his government will increase the number of refugees to be allowed into the UK. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Holland are pushing EU leaders to relocate more refugees. Merkel is calling for European countries to apply more flexible quotas to ensure an equally distributed numbers of asylum seekers.
Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott meanwhile reaped criticism as he suggested for Europe to turn away boats of refugees. Ukip candidate is also being condemned for saying that Aylan’s parents are greedy for seeking the good life in Europe.
Unique among them is the solution coming from an Egyptian billionaire, Naguib Sawiris. The tycoon asked Greece and Italy to sell him an island where the refugees can stay up until they can come back home.
According to a report from The Guardian, Mr. Cameron has yet to announce the official number of refugees to be allowed entry into UK. The report however noted that the prime minister has mentioned in the past that his government is willing to take in “thousands.” The Guardian further reported that the funding and location for the refugees are already being negotiated. However, the refugees that will be selected to come to UK will possibly be taken from those who are already waiting at the UNHCR camps.
Asked about his reaction to Aylan’s death, Cameron said, “anyone who saw those pictures overnight could not help but be moved and, as a father, I felt deeply moved by the sight of that young boy on a beach in Turkey.”
The prime minister, however, emphasized that the solution to the problem is not simply taking in people. “We need a comprehensive solution; a new government in Libya. I would say the people responsible for these terrible scenes we see, the people most responsible, are president Assad in Syria and the butchers of Isil [Islamic State] and the criminal gangs that are running this terrible trade in people.”
German Chancellor Merkel, meanwhile, called on other countries to help with the crisis. As for the European countries who are already taking refugees, she called for more flexible quotas to ensure equal distribution of asylum seekers.
“We can’t leave Italy or Greece alone to deal with this task. At the same time, if we say that Italy and Greece can’t be left alone with this task, then neither can it be that three countries, like Sweden, Austria and Germany, are left alone with the lion’s share of the task,” Merkel was quoted as saying by Reuters.
Mr. Hollande had also proposed with Ms Merkel “a permanent and obligatory mechanism.” He explained that “what exists is no longer enough and there are countries … who do not assume their moral obligations so we will need to go further.”
Mr. Abbott, on the other hand, sparked criticism as he voiced out a seemingly apathetic solution to the problem. Commenting on Aylan’s photo, the Australian prime minister said Europe should adopt a policy that of his country – turning away boats from its borders.
“If you want to stop the deaths, if you want to stop the drownings, you’ve got to stop the boats. We saw yesterday on our screens a very sad and poignant image of children tragically, tragically dead at sea in illegal migration,” Mr Abbott told ABC Radio.
“And thankfully we’ve stopped that in Australia because we’ve stopped the illegal boats, we’ve said to the people smugglers, ‘your trade has closed down’. As long as people think that if they can get here they can stay here, we’ll have the illegal trade, we’ll have the people smugglers in business and we’ll have the tragedies at sea,” he said to further explain his rationale.
Another politician, Ukip candidate Peter Bucklitsch, has sparked condemnation across social media. Bucklitsch made the appalling comment that Aylan’s parents are to be blamed for being “greedy for the good life” in Europe.
In a Twitter post, first reported by The Independent, Bucklitsch said that Aylan was obviously “well clothed and well fed.” He added that Turkey “is not a place where the family was in danger. Leaving that safe place put the family in peril.” Those who saw his post described him as evil, heartless and unbelievably cruel.
Meanwhile, Egyptian billionaire Sawiris has an immediate and long-term solution to the crisis. He wants to buy an island in Greece and Italy and have all the refuges stay there until they can come back to their hometown.
This supposed island would be “temporary shelters to house the people, then you start employing the people to build housing, schools, universities, hospitals,” Sawiris said as quoted by SA Breaking News. He, however, acknowledged that this solution has federal loopholes like jurisdiction and customs regulation. If he can have his way, he would take the refugees away from how they are being treated “like cattle.”