SUZANNE HARRINGTON: Europe could easily absorb all the refugees

THE movies are all about rescue at the moment. Hollywood has just sent Nasa and its Chinese equivalent to Mars to bring back Matt Damon, while Everest focuses on the attempted rescue of a group of rich people who climbed the mountain simply because they could afford to. Spoiler alert — loads of them die. Apart from Matt Damon, obviously.

Meanwhile, another dead baby is washed up on the beach in Kos. This is not a Hollywood movie, but real life. Nobody rescued him. Unlike the three-year-old Alyan Kurdi, nobody knows who this one is. Just a baby boy, aged around one, in a babygrow. His body has been taken off for DNA testing to find out where he might be from, but beyond that, he remains anonymous, another casualty of desperate people escaping war. The Greek couple who found him said they are going to bury him as though he was their own child.

It’s not like ordinary people don’t want to help. Literally lorryloads of donated stuff arrived from Cork to Calais the other day; all over Europe, people are reaching out. Depots and warehouses are full, with volunteers working like mad to sort out donations and distribute them as quickly and effectively as possible.

Which is great — a basic human urge to help fellow humans in crisis — but without our democratically elected leaders urgently reversing the mass cranio-rectal inversion that seems to have befallen almost every last one of them — no amount of donated tents is going to solve anything long-term. Babies will continue to wash up dead on EU beaches.

Europe could easily absorb all the refugees

Refugees need proper refuge, where they can get on with living their lives, the same as we live ours. Refugee camps are refuges only from having actual bombs dropped on your head — but what about stuff like going to school, going to work, having family time, playing with your friends, being an ordinary human? Refugee camps — official and otherwise — cannot really provide that. They are just holding pens.

The EU is the richest continent with a population of 740m. We could easily, effortlessly, comfortably absorb every last refugee; by global standards, we are minted. Yet most of our EU politicians are either hand wringing or spouting divisive rhetoric. Ireland, for all the goodwill of its people, is exempt from having to take in anyone. Why?

It goes against basic human instinct not to help others in dire need. Our long term survival on this planet is down to the fact that we are a co-operative species, yet greed and manmade borders — plus weaponised psychopaths slugging it out in various warzones — means that our natural desire to co-operate and mutually assist has been thwarted at all levels other than grassroots.

Europe could easily absorb all the refugees

According to the BBC, in the past month 44 children drowned in EU seas. And in Hungary, photographer Norbert Baksa did a refugee-themed fashion shoot, with models clutching Chanel purses against a backdrop of barbed wire. Perhaps they could have been accessorised with a few drowned babies.

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