Letters: The real tragedy is in the refugees' homeland

The following letters appear in the 4 September edition of The Independent

Independent Voices@IndyVoices
Thursday 03 September 2015 17:22

Shocking though your front-page picture of the dead child was (3 September), the background to it is even worse. In Syria, every day children like this are in danger of being blown to pieces by barrel bombs dropped on their towns by their own government.

In his home town of Kobane, this boy’s life would have been constantly threatened by the possibility of being brutally murdered by Isis, caught in the crossfire of a vicious battle for control, or randomly killed by US attempts to bomb Isis positions to the point where the whole town has been flattened.

From there his family’s only option would have been to escape over the Turkish border, on the rare occasions when it was open, to languish indefinitely in a refugee camp.

The truly shocking part of it is that no legitimate route to safety was available to this little boy and his family due to the cowardice and inertia of many Western countries. Late in the day, Germany and Sweden have set a humanitarian example, but there is still no safe route to them – quite the reverse. This is the true scandal behind that heartbreaking image.

Sierra Hutton-Wilson

Evercreech, Somerset

The criminal actions of people smugglers did not create this unfolding tragedy. If every smuggler were removed tomorrow, the problem would continue to develop. Shame on our Government, which specialises in expressing moral indignation about events in the world but is demonstrating that it lacks the moral compass to act in a compassionate way towards desperate fellow human beings.

Mr Cameron and his ministers are political Levites, prepared to find any excuse to avoid crossing the road to help the unfortunate victim on the roadside.

John Dillon

Northfield, Birmingham

While I agree with The Independent’s decision to print the picture of the drowned Syrian boy washed up on a beach, it has only increased my sense of impotence. I am by no means a wealthy person, but I have a spare room and would willingly share what I have with a family in need. We can make room for those people. David Cameron, for the love of God, let them come!

Penny Joseph

Shoreham-by-Sea, West Sussex

Photos of floating dead children in the sea do not change my attitude towards Syrian migrants. Our country is the second-largest aid donor in the world. We already give poor countries an astonishing £12bn every year in foreign aid. Britain has also given £900m for displaced people in Syria alone.

In all, we give away enough money for countries near Syria, such as the wealthy Saudi Arabia, to home genuine refugees. We should not take in any Syrians as asylum-seekers as some will undoubtedly be Isis extremists intent on killing us.

Mark Richards


I am ashamed to be British. There is a major humanitarian crisis happening on Europe’s shores, and the UK has done virtually nothing, merely taking a handful of refugees. Many British people are happy to accept asylum-seekers in times of crisis – we have done it before and we can do it again.

We are not a selfish nation and we are a very wealthy country. If we were escaping from a war zone, from possible murder and rape, and the slaughter of our children, we would hope that some kind people would help us and take us in. We cannot just leave it all to Germany. Let’s do the right thing and take in our fair share of refugees.

Joan Ferrero

Grange-over-Sands, Cumbria

I haven’t yet been able to bring myself to look at the picture on your front page of the little boy washed up drowned on a beach. I will try. What I have done is write to my MP to express my outrage at this Government’s refusal to allow Britain to play its part in offering sanctuary to some of those forced to flee for their lives.

I urge readers to write to their MP to prove the point I made to mine, that the overwhelming majority of people in this country would wish Britain to join Germany in opening its doors at this time of almost unprecedented crisis.

Beverley Thompson

Bow Brickhill, Milton Keynes

I fervently hope that your heartbreaking photo of Aylan al-Kurdi will lead to a change of heart on the part of the Government. Mr Cameron’s argument that taking more refugees is not an answer to the underlying problems is specious. To follow the admirable stance taken by Germany would not solve all the problems – that will take time – but it would help thousands of our fellow human beings who are suffering.

Given the parallel cruel cuts in asylum support, which will hurt children in particular, it is difficult not to believe that the real reason is a reluctance to fulfil our international obligations to those seeking asylum for fear of “sending a message” that they are welcome in our country. Such a stance shames us all.

Baroness (Ruth) Lister of Burtersett

House of Lords, London SW1

Perhaps Mr Cameron or one of his anonymous Downing Street spokesmen could explain why it is better to spend £500m on a pointless political gesture in Scotland than spend anything on rescuing families in fear of their lives.

Peter Coghlan

Broadstone, Dorset

A partial solution to the refugee problem could involve the creation of high-quality refugee camps. Perhaps nearby countries could be persuaded, in exchange for money, to allow aid agencies to set up good-quality accommodation, and food, medical and education services?

I’m sure many refugees would prefer camps to risking the lives of their children. In addition, inhabitants of these camps would be able to keep alive the hope of eventually returning to their countries of origin.

Resources could include the £500m just promised for Trident, and a large contribution from the US, especially as the US and the UK are in part responsible for the unrest in many of the refugees’ countries.

Sally Parrott

Cranleigh, Surrey

Regarding the piteous image of a dead child on the beach, I’d personally like to thank the Prime Minister for taking such a brave and manly stand against the “swarm” of migrants and refugees.

David Clarke


That front page picture was worth a thousand words

It was a brave but correct editorial decision to publish on the front page of The Independent (3 September) the dramatic photograph of the drowned, face-down young boy on the edge of the sea.

All other newspapers depicted the boy being carried in the man’s arms, which in itself did not show that he was dead.

The Editors’ Code of Practice issued by the Press Complaints Commission in 2012 was not contravened. Intrusion into grief and shock must be made with sympathy and discretion and be handled sensitively.

Public interest also warranted the publication of this photograph. This is because the dire situation of the hapless refugees, involving innocent children, needs to be brought home to all of us living in the comfort of Europe.

As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.

David Ashton

Shipbourne, Kent

Thank you for having the balls to print your front-page photograph (3 September).

I fervently hope that the message that this picture gives shames David Cameron and his elitist Government.

Jan Huntingdon

Cricklade, Wiltshire

I felt compelled to write to you after being moved by the picture on the front cover of your paper (3 September).

It is a completely shocking reminder of how desperate people are to leave their terrible conditions in Syria to find a safe place to survive and bring up their families. It was right to print it, if only to jolt us all out of our inaction.

I think that our Government’s attitude to this crisis is shameful.

We are indeed a small crowded island, but we are a prosperous one, and we lose our own humanity if we refuse to take our share of these desperate people. I feel ashamed that my Government is taking this line and that Great Britain is being seen the world over to be taking this selfish stand.

Charlotte Dagg


Your front page (3 September) was magnificent. How David Cameron puts us to shame.

Joan Pennycook


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