Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Other People's Mail

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Other People's Mail

Article excerpt


To the Portland Press Herald, Sept. 22, 2016

A year ago this month, the world was stunned by the photograph of 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi, lying dead on a Turkish beach.

Like Aylan's father, Abdullah Kurdi, many thought that the image would help clarify the situation in Syria. Nobody-Russian or American, German or Turkish, Sunni or Shi'i-wants to see a young child die.

But this summer we were appalled again at a similar image: That of 5-year-old Omran Daqneesh, sitting barefoot in an ambulance, covered in dust and blood after narrowly surviving the blast of a Russian airstrike.

Many of us now share Mr. Kurdi's confusion as to why we are still seeing such images and confronting the same stories. The reality is, children are caught in the violence every week in Syria, and many are not as lucky as Omran.

But the greatest strategic questions return to which armies should be backed, what districts should be bombed, and who should or should not receive more weaponry.

The U.N. has continually reported on what looks like a bottomless humanitarian crisis, but international powers seem more willing to fight a proxy war in Syria than find ways to help the millions of desperate people living in the country.

For now, the international community must help the refugees; nobody should sacrifice the lives of their children in their search for safety.

The U.S. should accept more than 10,000 Syrians. Syria's neighbors should improve conditions for their refugees, and the U.S. and Europe should help them accomplish that. This is not an issue we can avoid, as a nation or as human beings.

In the long term, the U.S. should prioritize humanitarian issues in the region. Syria needs peace, regardless of whose political goals triumph. The health of young children should come before politics.

Charlie Tomb, Brunswick, ME


To The Fresno Bee, Oct. 1, 2016

Wow! I have rarely read such an ill-informed statement in The Bee's letters section as that which describes Syrian refugees as perpetually unemployable (Sept. 25).

What does Gerald Fountain of Coalinga think these people were doing before their country became a war zone? Syria is not a country known for having an American-style welfare safety net. No, the refugees we hopefully will welcome into our country were hard-working individuals raising families and sending their children to school.

Many were running their own businesses, while others are well-educated professionals, who speak English as a second language. They may have lost their capital, but they bring skills and experience with them, are eager to get back to work, and will be valuable additions to our economy.

Bob Turner, Clovis, CA


To The Wichita Eagle, Oct. 11, 2016

My feelings go out to the people of Syria, especially the city of Aleppo, where heavy bombing is occurring. Many orphans, widows and widowers result from these serious situations. Hospitals are caught in the destruction, as are deliveries of food and medicine.

I am mindful of my time spent as a teacher and relief worker in Jordan and the West Bank in the 1950s. Arab Palestinian refugees fled their homes to live as refugees in the Jericho area, among other places in Palestine. The refugees resulted from the first Arab-Israeli war of 1948 and totaled about 700,000.

The Jericho area had 38,000 refugees in the Aqaba Jabber refugee camp. The United Nations provided rations for the inhabitants. This camp was emptied out in the 1967 Six-Day War, with the refugees fleeing eastward into Jordan. Being a teacher, I assisted in clothing distributions.

This is a sight to behold, with its many manifestations of poverty and hopelessness.

Marlow Ediger, North Newton, KS


To the Houston Chronicle, Sept. 23, 2016

The United States has pledged to give Israel $3. …

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