Article Details

The lonely death of Alan Kurdi

Categories: Articles:Asylum & Refugees, BLOG | Published: 31/08/2018 | Views: 939

On 2nd September, 2015, Alan Kurdi, a three year old Syrian boy, drowned in the Mediterranean Sea. He and his family were refugees trying to reach Europe. Photographs of his body were diseminated widely and prompted a large international response. This week's blog is a reflection on the third anniversary of Alan's death, written by our Social Justice Coordinator, Danny Sweeney.  

A tiny child lying dead on a beach.
Not the first. Not the last. Nothing remarkable.
But for a few days the world felt a shade more hospitable.
Those who’d ignored, or had not paid attention, felt their hearts go out to one lost Kurdish Syrian.
Shared on social media, pictures for ‘likes’.
Some folk were genuine.  Some just virtue signalling.
Some back with action; give money, give time. “This made me see. Damn!”
Others went back to photos of latte on Instagram.
Those who had spoken in fearful hysteria of “swarms,” “infestations,” “invasions,” stopped to shed their crocodile tears, before going back to their usual headlines, and their policies for fear.
For a hostile environment, there’s paperwork to be done.
How “I was deeply moved” in politics becomes “Let’s move on”.
Gesture politics: let’s do the bare minimum. It shouldn’t hurt our base and may even help us win again. Bring over a few thousand for just a few years, and hope that everyone stops asking. Cheers!
A brief respite in rhetoric, but not for too long; they are still “other,” and we want them gone.
Pay off other governments, not our obligation. “We’re helping where they come from” means “We’ll do anything to stop them being a part of our nation.”
A dinghy, overcrowded, not fit to float, but there’s money to be made. No time to check the life boat.
Alan Kurdi: dead on a morning of fear. Unknown dead still trapped in Syria.
Unknown dead across the Med. Unknown dead under the wheels of European trains and lorries. Unknown beaten in Calais, Dunkirk. If it’s cold, take their shelter. If it’s hot, take their water.
Unknown dead in Yemen. Bombs ‘Made in Britain’. Used by our allies. Please don’t pay attention!
Isaiah prophesied that swords would be turned into ploughares. But there’s profit to be had, and we’ve Brexit to pay for.
Now three years on, and the world has stopped caring. Aid must serve Trade, and the far-right is rising.
Weak politicians plot how to get ahead. We haven’t learnt how to welcome the stranger. And many more are now dead.
Danny Sweeney is Justice and Peace Scotland’s Co-ordinator. He writes here in a personal capacity.
The causes and effects of the current mass displacement of people has not been resolved.

SCIAF ( ) support work with displaced people around the world, including the Rohingya in Bangladesh and those displaced by the war in Syria through the Church’s international organisation Caritas.
Maria Skobtsova Catholic Worker House is a community prayerfully present with and amongst refugees and asylum seekers in Calais in the traditions of the Catholic Worker Movement. .
Refugee Community Kitchen works in both Northern France and the UK to ensure that those who are displaced do not go without food.
Safe Passage exists to help unaccompanied child refugees and vulnerable adults find safe, legal routes to sanctuary.
Scottish Faith Action for Refugees (SFAR) brings together faith communities across Scotland to explore ways to welcome and integrate new Scots into our country, to campaign for the rights and dignity of displaced people, and develop Scotland for future generations.
Print Bookmark and Share

Return to previous page