To begin, the Syrian refugee crisis is not new.
In a country ravaged by civil war for nearly five years, the human toll has had plenty of time to mount.
It’s estimated more than 250,000 people are dead so far – the majority civilians. Another 11 million – roughly a third the population of Canada – have been forced from their homes. Of those, four million have fled the country in a pitiful exodus not seen since the Second World War.
That Canadians are just waking up to this crisis does not change the history. It does not change the fact that children born into this tragedy will soon celebrate their fifth birthday having never known peace and security.
Canada has a chance to change that, at least for some.
The effort to accommodate a small percentage of refugees is gathering momentum. Locally – and across Canada – individuals and organizations are planning for their arrival. They’re gathering funds, finding accommodations and marshaling services. They are demonstrating the same compassion that led to our earlier acceptance of those fleeing unrest and persecution.
Canada has agreed to take in 25,000 refugees. Yes, accommodating them will bring challenges. But turning them away puts us in uncomfortable company.