Monday, March 31, 2014

Finns Party councillors reject Syria child refugees

Many members of the populist Finns Party in Finland, including members of parliament and councillors have, through words and actions, repeatedly shown that the party has little or no regard for refugees, immigrants and other minorities. 

According to Yle, the mayor of Lieksa in eastern Finland tabled a proposal to accommodate a maximum of  nine (9) refugee in the city as quota refugees from Syria. Finns Party city councillors opposed the humanitarian proposal and subsequently blocked the move.

The Syrian crisis has been described by former British Foreign Secretary David Miliband as "the biggest humanitarian test of the century", and many people of good conscience and aid organizations like the International Rescue Committee have launched appeals for aid to support thousands refugees and displaced Syrians, including children. According to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), over one million children - described as "a lost generation" -  have fled Syria and three million children remain displaced inside the country.

In my view, Finns Party members of the Lieksa municipal council - by rejecting minor refugees from Syria - once again demonstrated xenophobia and moral bankruptcy - a few months after they refused to use the same meeting room with Somalians.

States and individuals around the world have an obligation (at least a moral one) to help protect a generation of Syrian children. States should take more quota refugees. Providing food and medical aid to refugees in squalid refugee camps is not enough. Refugee camps should not be long term accommodation. Individuals on their part should make secure donations to the UNHCR or any refugee agency or organization of choice. Save the Children and UNICEF are also accepting donations to help child refugees in Syria. Making donations on a personal level and accepting refugees (especially children) at the level of the state will go a long way to protect a vulnerable group of people from despair, faded opportunities and an uncertain future.

The kind of blind nationalism and exclusion demonstrated by Finns Party councillors is unacceptable, especially during a refugee crisis involving millions of children. People have the right to lawful association and to hold and expression political views - no matter how ludicrous some manifestos and views may be. But some stance - like refusal to accept under-aged refugees from a war zone - are an affront to good conscience and worthy of strong condemnation.

Stand #WithSyria.

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