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Root cause for Syrian exodus was drought, not ISIS

The Editor: We need to help the people fleeing Syria as well as address the “root causes” pushing them to flee.  Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander identify the “root cause” of this insanity as ISIS.   

Both are part of the “let’s bomb Syria to save Syrians” chorus of some “western” leaders.  

Seldom mentioned, even in Development and Peace’s material, is that a significant factor triggering this murderous insanity was Syria’s 2006 - 2011 drought.     

The drought resulted in a loss of 75 per cent of their crops and the internal displacement of over one million people.   

In September 2008, the Syrian UN Food and Agriculture representative asked for U.S.$20.23 million in assistance.   The international response was inadequate.   

Meanwhile al-Assad’s regime persisted with policies of subsidizing water intensive crops and promoting irrigation techniques inappropriate for a region experiencing increasing hot and dry spells due to climate change.  

The number of internally displaced Syrians grew to five million before the 2011 unorganized outbreaks of civil disobedience which was greeted by al-Assad with military force.  This escalated into the civil war. It started in the areas hardest hit by the drought.   

ISIS only arrived on the scene about two years ago.   

As brutal as ISIS is, they are not the “root” cause of the social and ecological devastation pushing Syrians from their homes.  Granted, they are exploiting it and the indifference of the so-called “Christian” West – as are we.  We — Canada — export weapons.   

Repeated UN pleas for humanitarian assistance, including food, have gone relatively unheeded.  

In 2014, as it only received 50 per cent of what it needed, the UN launched another campaign.  This time it asked for U.S.$8.4 billion. Please note the shift from “millions” in 2008 to “billions” in 2014.  

To its credit, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops put out a special appeal through Development and Peace.   

Neither the UN nor D & P’s goals were reached.   

As Pope Francis stresses throughout Laudato Si’ all is inter-connected.  How is this not a “pro-life” issue? — Yvonne Zarowny, Qualicum Beach BC


Change needed in Canada’s health care system

The Editor: Most developed countries have doctor-prescribed drugs included in their public health-care programs.

Canada is the exception. According to the University of British Columbia (UBC), Canada has the worst prescription drug system in the world,

It is estimated that one in 10 of all Canadians cannot afford to buy the drugs, that have been prescribed for them. This could result in being confined to a hospital. And we know that even one day in a hospital is a far greater cost than the price of the average prescription.

It is estimated by the UBC that if prescription drugs were included in our national health-care program, there are a number of changes that could result in an overall saving of about $7 billion dollars annually.

There is a way and a responsibility for all Canadian voters to promote placing prescription drugs into our national health care program.

There will be a federal election held in Canada on Oct. 19 of this year. It is the responsibility of every Canadian who votes, and even those who do not vote, to pressure those we send to our House of Commons to implement the incorporation of doctor-prescribed drugs into our national health care program. — Leo Kurtenbach, Saskatoon