23 December 2014

What if Everyone in Manhattan Disappeared?

It is something that we see in science fiction movies and Manhattan seems to be a popular choice in presenting this sort of dystopic nightmare.  One of the fascinating things about such an exodus is seeing the sight of an empty city.  Everything looks normal except for one thing – the complete disappearance of the entire population.

Yet this kind of thing is happening in our world right now – in Syria.  The Assad regime and the rise of ISIS have forced ten million people out of their villages, towns and cities – that is, staggeringly, half the population.  Out of this number more than 3 million are under the age of 16.

This video was created for the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) by Purpose and the Hamdi Foundation to raise awareness of this appalling situation by giving us the image of Manhattan emptied of people – perhaps something we know might better help us understand the enormity of the issue.  It is - put simply - the largest refugee crisis since the Second World War.

Where did these missing millions go?  Syria’s neighboring countries have taken in the biggest numbers yet these are not wealthy countries and the strain is becoming intolerable.  Lebanon has, for example, seen its population grown by 36%.  At the last count the UK had taken in just 54 people.

The international community is failing to respond to their needs meaning millions do not have enough to eat, fuel to keep warm or a safe place to lay their heads. Visit http://www.unhcr.org for more information and to pledge your support.

We have the United Nations for many reasons but to help our fellow human beings who find themselves, through no fault of their own, in dire circumstances, is pivotal to it existence.

This issue needs to be addressed but we cannot simply stand by and expect our governments act – as sometimes they need to be prompted.  As a private citizen you can help by persuading your government to unlock crucial funding for UNHCR or indeed make a donation to the Syria Emergency Winter Crisis Alert appeal..