TAMARA TALKS: Beyond the froth of festivals and fiery summer heat, the refugee agony goes on

Last September the world was rocked by images of Aylan Kurdi, the three-year-old Syrian boy whose body was washed up on a beach in Turkey.

Wednesday, 24th August 2016, 12:51 pm
Updated Wednesday, 24th August 2016, 2:06 pm
Omran Daqneesh

Aylan and his brother, mother and father were attempting to flee to relatives in Canada when the boat they were in overturned.

Their goal was to finally escape the war-torn environment they came from.

Almost one year on and thousands more have died in their desperate attempts to reach safety and now it’s a different little boy whose situation we are saddened by.

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Tamara Siddiqui

Five-year-old Omran Daqneesh’s dazed, lifeless expression as he sits in the back of an ambulance, covered in blood and rubble, is one that will stick with me for a while.

And many others too as the image of him went viral and has been shared thousands of times on social media.

Pulled from rubble in the Syrian city of Aleppo, it is Omar’s silence as he sits alone, stunned, that speaks volumes.

He survived but his brother did not.

Tamara Siddiqui

It’s certainly true that a picture paints a thousand words. But how many more viral images or videos will we see as a result of these terrible happenings? And what about those who lose their families, friends, homes or lives, who we don’t get to hear about?

What seems like a world away isn’t – it’s happening here, in our world, and it could quite easily be us suffering instead.

I feel bad about the fact that here I am in the comfort of my own home (well, my parents’ home), planning what I’m going to wear this weekend to a festival in my hometown, getting excited at the thought of making memories and having fun with my friends - yet just outside Europe people are living in constant turmoil.

No child anywhere in the world should have the joy and innocence of their younger years taken from them.

I often ask myself how someone like me can help.

Apart from raising money and donating to charity there’s not a lot we can do to physically help, and I think that’s why people often feel so unsettled when they see news report after news report and picture after picture.

I believe this is why images of boys like Aylan and Omran do go viral, because people feel they are doing something, at least by sharing an image – and I think they are.

For some, the effect of seeing such things is the opposite – I’ve come across people who aren’t at all bothered and say things like: ‘Well there’s nothing we can do, it happens all the time and not to us, so there’s no point talking about it.’

I suppose all we can do is show compassion and empathy, and that at least is something, because not everyone does.

We should keep sharing news stories and images and commenting on these tragic incidents because it’s better than doing nothing at all.

And most of all, we should be truly grateful that we are lucky enough to live in a country that isn’t being destroyed by war.