A visibly upset Minister of Education Ronald Jones has expressed sadness over the migrant crisis in Europe, warning the region that “if it is not dealt with decisively, it is a tragedy that will engulf this part of the world eventually”. He did not say how, however.
Contending that human beings have “not yet learned to live well” with each other, Jones expressed disappointment that people continued to “fight over colour, class, small pieces of land, oil, water [and] other things that should be shared among man”.
“The tragedy you are seeing in that part of the world is a tragedy, if not dealt with decisively, is a tragedy that is going to engulf this side of the world eventually. We have, in some countries, large land spaces and I think that we too have to start to look, with our large land spaces, to reach out in a humane way,” said Jones.
The Minister of Education was addressing a new intake of students at the American University of Barbados School of Medicine (AUB) during an orientation ceremony yesterday.
Over the past few weeks, migrants mostly from Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan have been making their way through Hungary to other European countries to seek asylum after fleeing their homelands for various reasons including war.
International media reports suggest that at least 2,800 people have either died or disappeared during the journey.
Describing the situation as an “enormous and painful tragedy”, Jones said: “What tore at my heart was a wash-up on a beautiful beach [of] a three year-old [boy]”.
“It brought tears to my hard heart, to my pointed eyes to see a child not yet feeling life but to have that life ripped from him because of man’s inhumanity over religion, land or something. We have not yet learn to live together on this planet,” said Jones.
“So you have an excellent opportunity, as people from different parts of the world, to create a new humanity by a new caring, by a new sharing, by a new understanding, by a new purpose for life. And as you move from here and go to other places to do your clinical or residencies, and as you go back home, you take home a new you, a better human being with the purposes that you have been able to inculcate in this space,” Jones told the new AUB students.
He said until human beings learned to truly love and live with each other, there would be more unfolding tragedies of this kind, adding that this latest incident was not the first “massive movement of people trying to find peace”.
Pointing out that there was a constant desire among some to maim, kill, eradicate, commit genocide and homicide, Jones acknowledged that similar occurrences were happening “right across our own Caribbean space”.
Jones urged the international group of students to use technology to be a voice of reason and speak out more about such issues. “You are saying ‘but how does this connect to me?’ [It does] in many ways,” said Jones.
“This is important to you because it is beyond the studying. It is beyond the medical skill . . . should you be comfortable, should I be comfortable . . . when so much is happening, when so many human beings are scattered?” he asked.
“We have to stop sidelining. It is the voices of the collective across the world. We have to speak out more. Where is the technology? And have you sought to mobilize the youth of the world? Not decadent behaviour but to speak and to galvanize other youth around the world,” he said.
“You might not have the instant impact but no one knows how that voice will travel over time; how that message will travel over time to impact somebody with a soul that is floundering, that is hearing your message and say ‘you know, I must not do this anymore’,” added Jones. (MM)