By Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Laureate*
7 September 2015 – TRANSCEND Media Service
Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire calls upon the UK government to move from military proposals, such as bombing Syria, to humanitarian solutions in tackling the refugee crisis, one of the greatest tragedies and human suffering facing Europe since the WWII.
The arrival of thousands of refugees and migrants from Middle East and African countries into Europe–many of whom have died on the journey–forces us to ask ‘how can they be helped immediately?’
Why are they fleeing their countries? How can the root cause of the problem be solved?
Bombing of Syria, as proposed by the UK Prime Minister, will only force more refugees to flee Syria taking extraordinary risks with their lives to find some security and safety from their war-torn lands.
“The UK Government has a moral responsibility to the refugees fleeing in fear across Europe. They are the victims of wars, invasions and occupations of their countries. Successive British administrations have spent billions on wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, plus a covert intervention in Syria.
“Such policies have resulted in the destruction of infrastructures across the Middle East and the growth of terrorism in the region. We need to oppose wars and the training of allegedly ‘moderate ‘rebels, who are turning their guns on civilians who oppose their brutality and violence, by countries such as UK, USA and others. They must stop the arms trade that is resulting in the arming of violent militants.
“The UK government needs to implement an urgent and massive increase in relocation and resettlement of refugees, reunite families, and provide financial and technical support to countries on the frontline of the crisis such as Greece, Hungary, Macedonia and others.
“Also start a dialogue with the Syrian government and all parties to the armed conflict to find a solution to the refugees and to overall Syrian conflict. To support citizen to citizen diplomacy within Syria, all those working for peace and reconciliation in Syria and all Middle Eastern countries, and lift the economic sanctions to improve the conditions within Syria, encouraging citizens to stay and help rebuild the country.
“Only when people feel safe and there is peace and stability in their own countries can we expect that they will remain in (and many return to) their homelands as opposed to being stuck in refugee camps for decades such as the Sudanese, Palestinians and others.
“It is time to acknowledge, apologize and make reparation for the damage done by UK-USA and other Western countries with their foreign policies upon countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and Syria and that there will not be a military or a paramilitary solution to these deep and increasingly dangerous conflicts.
“A start in the right direction can be made by working with partners across EU and UN in applying policies based on compassion and empathy for those whose lives have been devastated by misguided poolicies of militarism, and war.”
*Mairead Corrigan Maguire, co-founder of Peace People, is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment.
She won the 1976 Nobel Peace Prize for her work for peace in Northern Ireland. Her book The Vision of Peace (edited by John Dear, with a foreword by Desmond Tutu and a preface by the Dalai Lama) is available from www.wipfandstock.com. She lives in Belfast, Northern Ireland. See: www.peacepeople.com.
This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 7 September 2015: TRANSCEND Media Service – TMS: Appeal to UK to Talk with Syrian Government and Islamic Militants to Help Solve Middle East Refugee Crisis