I recently had lunch with a friend who is working on the island of Lesbos – helping to manage the flow of refugees arriving on its shores. She went back last Wednesday. She first went there almost 3 years ago. On arrival she found chaos; beaches strewn with discarded lifejackets, and the formal ‘settlements’ overflowing. Thousands of people couldn’t access camps and were huddled in freezing fields, with no facilities, food or shelter.
The tragedy of this particular episode in Europe’s recent history was poignantly and traumatically captured in the sad and harrowing image of the body of one little 3 year old boy, Aylan Kurdi, washed up on a beach on the island of Kos. It’s a haunting image and one that is not quickly forgotten.
Conditions for the journey turned unexpectedly treacherous. Aylan’s distraught father, Abdullah Kurdi, tried and failed to hold on to his wife and two sons after their boat capsized. Recently, Abdullah said his only wish is to return their bodies to their home town of Kobani and then “be buried alongside them”.
Abdullah’s story is one of thousands and thousands of similar stories emerging around the world.
Today is refugee Sunday, but every day is refugee day. Every day families are attempting to escape from appalling circumstances and conditions. Stories like this ought never be far from our minds and hearts. Let’s not forget them.