Frank Giustra has been consumed with the plight of Syrian refugees ever since last October, when an overcrowded boat of asylum seekers arrived on a Greek beach in the dark and someone handed him a child to pass up to another volunteer.
“You can’t help but feel their pain,” Giustra said in an interview Friday. “Some (of the people arriving) are in shock. They’re confused. They’re coming with nothing. They’ve left everything behind. They’re carrying small babies. They don’t speak the language. … When you see that, it’s just heartbreaking.”
The Vancouver mining magnate, former Hollywood studio owner, Bill Clinton pal and philanthropist readily admits that he was — like most of us — sort of aware of what was happening, but not really caring that much, until he went to the island of Lesbos. “I didn’t understand how really out of control it really is.”
The numbers are staggering. There are 11 million internally displaced Syrians, including an estimated 14,000 people who are reported to be massed close to a Syrian-Turkish border crossing that only recently was closed. There were 4,815,868 Syrians registered as refugees with the United Nations as of March 9. But that number doesn’t include the asylum seekers already in Europe, or those in the informal camps.