What will happen to Syria’s grandparents? 239



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Prime Minister Tony Abbott has announced Australia’s commitment to the Syrian refugee crisis, which will include $44 million for the United Nations Refugee Agency, increased air strikes, and a safe haven for a large number of Syrians from persecuted minorities.

Mr Abbott is clear on who will be allowed into Australia: “women, children and families from persecuted minorities”.

He was eager to point out that this last caveat did not limit the intake to Christians but would apply to people from Muslim and non Muslim minorities who can never return home.

All together, Australia will take 12,000 Syrian refugees, on top of our current intake of 13,750 refugees from around the world.

But we can’t help wondering about those who will be left behind.

According to the Caritas Lebanon Migrant Center (CLMC), older Syrian refugees are not receiving the help that they need. Their research says 61 per cent of older refugees in Lebanon reported feeling anxious, and 10 per cent are unable to leave their homes – proving a challenge to the traditional methods of aid agencies.

Meanwhile, 87 per cent of older refugees in Lebanon are unable to afford the medication that they need a staggering 98.5 per cent struggled to see a doctor when they needed one.

In the picture above, Muhammed Ramadan, age 90, sits with his wife outside their tent at the camp for displaced persons in Atmeh, Syria. They fled violence in their home town in Idlib province and are part of the mammoth humanitarian disaster facing Syria and surrounding countries today.

Where will people like Muhammed Ramadan and his wife go? Who will take them in? Or will they spend the last days of their lives languishing in a refugee camp? What will happen to the grandfathers and grandmothers left behind?

While it’s great that Australia is willing to provide a safe haven for 12,000 refugees in this, the biggest exodus since World War 2, the government is quite clear on the fact that only “useful” people will be accepted.

The Prime Minister says applicants will be fast-tracked and assessed for “health, security and character”.

“It is important we bring in people who are going to contribute to the Australian community, don’t want to bring in people who will be a problem,” he said today.

“It’s important we act with our head as well as our heart; but that we act in a measured and considered way.”

Tell us: are you happy with Australia’s commitment to the refugee crisis? 

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. I am probably going to get abused here but don’t bother, in my opinion, countries won’t want to pay them a pension that is why Abbott won’t accept them here, in Australia Baby Boomers have their own dramas and battles with this Government over our pensions, but I feel all Governments should all contribute to a fund to make sure these people are well looked after in whatever country accepts them, none of this is their fault.

    19 REPLY
    • Not sure about this…….. While I accept that on an individual basis it may not be their fault…..but……Islamic tradition will never accept Christian beliefs and if history had taught us anything …..it is that fact. Are we opening ourselves up to a similar occurrence on our shores in the future. Australians are battling now so we should be looking to improving our own children’s future first……only then can we help.

    • well I disagree with you, if Bishop and Abbott can rort this country and waste money on knighthoods and other silly things this country does not need, they could give to a World wide fund to make sure these people are housed and fed somewhere. If every country contributed the cost would not be high..people in their 80’s and 90’s have a limited time left on this earth

    • Yes, totally agree on that score, but will they????. The money would be extracted from the taxpayer ….again…..while the pollies continue wasting as usual.

    • Yes Lynette Miles I guess if they need more funds it will be those of us on the age Pension who will once again be affected in one way or another, Our Politicians will never take a pay cut or go without their ENTITLEMENTS.

    • I agree with your sentiment Libby Elliot. But I asked…..Who is going to oversee this world wide fund? Billions of dollars are raised thru the various charities, organisations and foundations around the world, but we still see abject misery in great abundance due to misappropriation of funds, corruption or mismanagement of the organisations themselves.

    • Abbott is also givng 44 million in aid so i am sure this will be used for those who won’t be accepted because of their age.

    • Libby & the rest of you. Your accommodation is waiting for you in Disneyland. Get real. I glad you lot are all billionaires cause I’m tied of my tax payer money going overseas to corrupt organisations etc. I want my taxes to go to fixing up Australian issues. The 60,000 kids that live on the streets. The huge number of homeless. You guys wake up.

      1 REPLY
      • Graeme I agree with you. Our farmers need help too. Australia is a large land mass looking at the world map, though many don’t realise there is no water. I have compassion for these people but I was brought up with “Charity begins at Home” and I still believe it.

    • Graeme Armiger your a rude man, I have no interest is anything you have to say now or ever, At least myself and the ladies who posted here having compassion and empathy for others, that is something you lack

    • Graeme Armiger you are not the only one in this country who pays taxes, if Abbott won’t accept the elderly here then another solution should be found, go back to your cruise ship and while you at it remember those very elderly in tents

    • Mike here-the arab nations won’t take refugees & the country shoppers don’t want to go there, maybe the arab nations could foot some of the bill for the illegal immigrants. I hope that Australia only takes women, children & families.

    • Libbi Elliot, with respect, I hardly think you can accuse Bishop and Abbott of rorting the country on Knighthoods and other silly things. A knighthood is just a piece of paper, I’m not sure what the silly things you refer to are. I think 50,000 assylum seekers, pink batts, school halls and cheques for nothing etc etc play a big part in our ability or lack of to fund anything. I feel very sorry for the elderly refugees but I understand the Governments position. We already have an enormous welfare bill, they would only add to it. Charity starts at home.

    • Viv Halaska I can accuse , I did accuse , I will accuse and don’t don’t tell me what to think and what to say, you don’t know me and I have no interest in knowing you

  2. Our Politicians dont give a damm about us retired pensioners………why would they take on the responsibility of another country in strife………..thats our PM for you

    22 REPLY
    • What a stupid statement, Labor, Libs, Greens, Independents are all calling for MORE & MORE, Most people would prefer we looked after our own, which we have plenty of. them. Why blame PM

    • How do you know I do not know the Syrians???also I know as a 61 year old pensioner that we do have more than them!!!!

    • If taxpayers’ money was not wasted we would have plenty for our needs . The mega rich boast that they pay no personal income tax, Big business is subsidised by taxpayers & as for the perks of politicians they are obscene. It’s not a shortage of money that is the problem it is the inequitable distribution.

    • Yes people don’t get the aged pension till they are 65 and if that’s the only money they get that doesn’t make them well off and why should they have to go without so the government can support others they deserve to come first

    • Sure , it wouldn’t matter who was in some people are never happy . Well none us would be probably . Because I couldn’t imagine anything worse than having another union boss running our country . Their memories are stuffed they never remember the devastation they cause this country . Money is like drinking water to them , they just rinse it down the drain , until the well is bone dry . Then once again we all have to suffer through cuts to get back in the black .
      So yes he quits , who do you think is tough enough to put up with so much crap about keeping this country in credit instead of debt ? Where does the waste end ?

    • What a unsympathetic self serving pack of pensioners whinging about refugees coming to Australia.
      Under Labor the pensioners received “ONE” pay increase in 6 years. Already the Libs have given 3 pay rises.
      If that’s all you have to live off then maybe you should have planned for your retirement instead of expecting the Gov and taxpayer to look after you.
      Abbott inherited a huge deficit and now he has ISIS to contend with. He is expected to contribute to this disaster and all you can do is complain.
      Some countries don’t even provide a pension to their elderly so you should thank your lucky stars that you live in Australia and receive a pretty substantial pension every fortnight.

    • Rozzy Battles I wouldn’t be happy if he quit. He’s doing a great job considering what he was left with and now he has ISIS and refugees to contend with. I nearly forgot…he also has the whingers and Abbott bashing bullies to contend with too

    • Judy just maybe your too imature to understand the hardships back in the early days……”.before your time by the sound of things”………..there was the Deep Despression……WW1 WW2 very harsh times indeed………….I take this as an insult to us retired pensioners ………Yes mate we our hardship too and we never whinge about it……….I bet you would though.

    • Maria Poland, I agree with you. Our boys fought in WW 2, they didn`t run away as cowards. I lost money 2X every cent of it, never been paid back. Those people that encourage refugees, maybe have a private health isurance, comfortable home, but the ones that will suffer, people with low income, a longer waiting to get an operation and most [probably have to pay more tax.

  3. I have been watching the news reports. There seems to be a lot of able bodied men that appear to be on their own no families in tow.

    12 REPLY
    • According to the UN website 72% of all the refuges are men. They should be sent home to rebuild their own countries.

    • Yes Liz, and have you also noticed that whenever there are riots etc., there are always hundreds of young men involved. If they won’t work in their own country, I seriously doubt if they’ll work in ours.

    • Elderly people, it should not be about theirs or ours, what do you think of the plight they are in, the men will be accepted somewhere but what will happen to these older people?

    • Their young men should have stayed home to protect them instead of abandoning them. I would not under any circumstance abandon any member of my family.

    • That’s my concern – the able bodied you men why aren’t they fighting for their own country. They won’t fight for us!

    • All very well dressed also. I dont think most of them are in any danger just want a cushy life in aus

    • Jim Briggs I saw a video yesterday full of male refugees rioting in Poland ….. scary stuff :(. Whilst I sympathise with these people, my concern is what type of people are we going to have here.

    • Yes, well dressed, fit & healthy , gutless men who should standing up to enemy, BUT as we saw yesterday Very few have papers, and they are finding various nationality papers amongst the rubbish, from Bangladesh, Iraq, Myanmar, Pakastan . Who knows who these people really are.

  4. A report I heard! There are 40 million people needing help,we are a nation of 23 million, so more than double our population, of course there will be people being left behind. The way I see it Tony Abbott is dammed if he does and dammed if he doesn’t.

    12 REPLY
    • All these people are fleeing a terrible war zone.
      Hard choices have to be made as to who can be rescued/saved. Historically, women & children have always been put first. Children are the future with their whole lives ahead of them. Mothers are the natural nurturers for children.
      I am a grandparent & I would gladly stay behind if it meant my grandchildren could escape to a safe country without me
      War is hell !!!

      1 REPLY
    • Unfortunately we can’t save the whole world we to have unemployment problem, health and schooling problem and most of all our old pensioners problem haw many of them can’t afford to eat proper diet (fruit,veggies ) to many of the young man is fleeing there country instead of stay and fight not waiting for every body else doing there job. Yes war is hell but if nobody fight it than just hand over you life’s but stay and fight like millions did in war 1 and 2 so many lost life’s to make better for there children

    • No Barbara Battin, nothing about $’s, 40 million people world wide. Also our country men fought and many lost their lives, so future generations could live in peace…

    • Yes I have to agree with you. Whatever decision he makes someone will curse him. So when you are in that situation you just have to do what you think is right.

    • I agree with you Debbie, we know little of the reality of all this, we vote our government in, we need to stop knocking them and trust that their knowledge will mean they make sensible decisions.

    • Why aren’t any Middle eastern countries taking in these refugees?Why are these people been sent all over the world? is this a way for the Muslims to spread their religion all over the world and take over the world by infiltrating them in this manner?

    • There are indeed millions upon millions… Help them in their own country… EVERY person living in there wants to live in a western country!

    • Oh for goodness sake! I just knew that no matter what our government did someone would still find something else to whinge about!

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