Lismore student shines light on Syrian refugees
"HOW lucky are we to live in Lismore," began Goonellabah Public student Molly Oquist in her passionate speech to the 300-strong crowd at Lismore's Light The Dark ceremony on Monday.
"Asylum-seekers across the world are not so lucky. They have fled their homes due to war, trying to keep themselves alive and their families safe," the 11-year-old said.
Molly echoed the sentiments from Lismore mayor Jenny Dowell and Light The Dark organiser Adele Wessell, who argued Australia needed to welcome more of the four million Syrian refugees fleeing their war-torn homes.
The local pop-up event was part of a nationwide campaign aimed at sending a message to the world that the Abbott Government's inaction on increasing humanitarian intake did not represent all Australians.
The event was spurred by the mass outrage over the image of a Syrian child's lifeless body washed up on the shores of a Turkish beach last week. His name was Aylan Kurdi, and he was just three years old.
The sad reality is that Aylan was one among four million Syrian refugees fleeing from war and persecution.
The world is facing a global refugee crisis on a scale we've not seen since the Second World War.
"Tonight we gather in Lismore to say 'we can and we must do more'," Cr Dowell said.
"People have resettled here from war-torn countries. We are proof that rural and regional Australia can do it."
The head of the United Nations refugee agency in Jordan said yesterday the Australian Government should immediately increase funding for humanitarian assistance to Syrian refugees in the Middle East.
Earlier this week, Prime Minister Tony Abbott indicated Australia was likely to take in more refugees from Syria than the current humanitarian cap would allow while also stepping up its military commitment via bombing raids on IS.