The refugee crisis in Europe has reached a critical level, and your favorite authors have plenty of suggestions on how you can help.
It is the worst refugee crisis since World War II, with a recorded 107,500 asylum seekers crossing the EU’s borders in July alone. Their journeys are perilous, and many people have died horribly even before reaching their destination (which might not even take them in).
The refugee crisis has been going on for months, but yesterday, a striking image of a drowned little boy whose family had been attempting to escape the Syrian civil war made headlines across the continent, finally prompting a surge of sympathy even from those who were previously ignorant/unaware of the crisis.
The refugees come from the Middle East and North Africa, and are fleeing war, poverty and persecution. The EU is struggling to cope with the vast number of homeless, helpless people; so far, Germany has taken in the most refugees, followed by Sweden.
Yesterday, The Guardian reported that U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron has bowed to pressure from the public, and has finally agreed to let more migrants into the country.
Some dissenters might claim that we should not attempt to help the refugees, but they are wrong. We’ll let J.K. Rowling tell you why:
If you can't imagine yourself in one of those boats, you have something missing. They are dying for a life worth living. #refugeeswelcome
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) September 3, 2015
She also called out the U.K. tabloid The Daily Express, which in her opinion needs to sort out its priorities:
Want the Daily Express to care that you're trying to find a safe home? Be a dog. pic.twitter.com/4F46vcWBWu
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) September 2, 2015
Rowling has been re-tweeting articles, help organizations and petitions from people in government, including the petition to Accept more asylum seekers and increase support for refugee migrants in the U.K., and a link to Save the Children‘s “Shame on Europe” article.
Rowling isn’t the only author who is encouraging fans to help out: John Green urges you to donate to author Patrick Ness (A Monster Calls)’s Virgin-hosted campaign, as he and other YA authors have done.
— Patrick Ness (@Patrick_Ness) September 3, 2015
Green, along with fellow YA authors Rainbow Rowell, Hank Green and Maureen Johnson, worked together to promote Ness’ campaign, and managed to raise an astounding £18,000 in less than four hours. That amount quickly grew, and at the time of writing, we’ve passed £150,000.
John Green wrote in a moving blog post:
In just under 12 hours, YA novelists and readers have raised over £120,000 to help Save the Children’s work with refugees. This is great news, and I hope we are just getting started. Donate here!
But the terrible news is still overwhelming to me.
I am heartbroken by our collective failure to assist refugees from the conflicts in Syria, Yemen, the Central African Republic, and elsewhere. I’m disgusted by the racist and dehumanizing response to the refugee crisis that we’ve seen from governments in Europe, Canada, the United States, and Australia.
Ethiopia–one of the poorest nations on earth–is currently home to more conflict refugees than the United States, Canada, or the United Kingdom. Ethiopia can help, but we can’t? Bullshit.
Those fleeing the civil wars in Syria, Yemen, and elsewhere are not someone else. They are not some mere Other that can dismiss as less fully human than ourselves. When they die, their blood is on our hands.
When the vulnerable and oppressed die because they are vulnerable and oppressed, the powerful are guilty. I’m proud of what Patrick Ness started this morning in the YA lit community, but let’s make this a beginning rather than imagining it as a solution.
Fandom can and should be used for the power of good. It is wonderful to see these authors band together, not only by donating themselves, but by encouraging their fans to get involved with this wrenching humanitarian crisis.
Want more ways to help out?
The Guardian has a fantastic guide to how we can help the struggling refugees. If you want to donate money there are plenty of campaigns, including but not limited to the British Red Cross, Save the Children, UNICEF, Islamic Relief and the Aylan Kurdi Fund, a fund set up in the honor of the drowned little boy whose picture shocked the world.
If you’re in the U.S. and you want to volunteer, check out the International Rescue Committee. If you’re in the U.K. and you want to march in a protest, the Solidarity With Refugees march begins on Downing Street on September 12.
As German chancellor Angela Merkel proclaimed earlier this week: “If Europe fails on the question of refugees, if this close link with universal civil rights is broken, then it won’t be the Europe we wished for.”