GENEVA — Israeli-Argentinian conductor Daniel Barenboim on Saturday urged the world to join European efforts to help Syrians forced into exile by the bloody civil war raging back home.
“Europe alone can’t deal with (the) Syrian refugees … the rest of the world has to participate,” he told reporters in Geneva ahead of a concert at the United Nations.
He also urged the Arab world to do its part in helping those fleeing the four-year civil war that has so far claimed a quarter of a million lives and sent millions fleeing into the surrounding countries and towards Europe.
“The Arab world should also take Syrian refugees,” he said ahead of the concert for the understanding of civilisation and human rights which will be attended by UN chief Ban Ki-moon.
Europe is currently struggling with its worst migration crisis since World War II with more than 700,000 people crossing its frontiers since the start of the year, most of them Syrians.
But other countries have also been inundated with Syrian refugees, with more than a million in Lebanon and another 630,000 in Jordan, UN figures show. And Turkey is hosting more than two million.
“In my country (Argentina), there are three Syrian communities: a Muslim (community), a Christian (community) and a Jewish (community),” he said. “All of them would be happy to give a land to the refugees.”
Barenboim also recalled how his own family had found refuge in Argentina when fleeing a wave of pogroms in Russia the late 1800s, expressing hope Buenos Aires would also extend its hand to help the Syrians.
The outspoken conductor also talked about the current wave of violence which began in Jerusalem and has spread across Israel and the Palestinian territories.
“In Jerusalem, the problem is really complex,” said Barenboim, a tireless campaigner for peace between Israel and the Palestinians who said it was time the UN got involved to end the decades-long conflict.
“The moment has come for the UN to put pressure on to solve the conflict,” he said.
Saturday’s concert will be performed by the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, co-founded by Barenboim and the late Palestinian scholar Edward Said in 1999, which includes musicians from Israel, the Palestinian territories and other Arab countries who play together as an experiment in coexistence.
On the program are Mozart’s 39th, 40th and 41st symphonies, all of which were written in 1788, just three years before his death at the age of 36.