In what is described to be the worst humanitarian disaster of our time, more than 11 million Syrians, half of Syria’s population, have been displaced because of the Syrian civil war. Starting with citizen protests for the return of a Democratic Republic and freedom of political prisoners in 2011, the war has stretched on with close to 220,000 citizen deaths. Using tactics such as chemical warfare and the deprivation of citizens of basic necessities such as food, water and shelter, more and more Syrians are becoming displaced; 7.6 million citizens within Syria and 4.1 emigrating out of Syria.
Although these displaced people need a new home, many countries are refusing to or are limiting the number of refugees they let in. Good examples are the Gulf Countries which have let in zero refugees according to Amnesty International. The U.N. (United Nations) predicts that if the Gulf Coasts were to let in refugees, close to 2 million could seek asylum in these countries.
Even though many peg this situation as a European problem, it affects people internationally. Historians around the world agree that with the largest refugee diaspora recorded, all countries should be pitching in to assist the helpless refugees. America, a country which has supplied arms to the Syrian troops, has taken in exactly 1,434 Syrians in the past four years. Similarly, countries who are known for their humanitarian efforts are all lagging in their support of the Syrian citizens. Canada has taken in roughly 1,000 displaced Syrians, and Australia less than 2,200. The United Kingdom and France have both announced that by 2020, 20,000 refugees will be let in. However, many criticize these countries’ limited efforts, knowing they are not enough to help this humanitarian disaster.
Because so many countries are refusing to let Syrians in, bordering countries such as Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq and Jordan are bursting at the seams. Many of the Turkish people resent the influx of refugees as unemployment rates skyrocket and cities become overpopulated. Lebanon has had a 25% population increase, with one in five citizens being a Syrian refugee. Iraq, also struggling with the displacement of it’s own people, can’t keep up with the growing number of refugees within its borders.
Currently, any Syrians who escape their warring hometown and make it to the EU (European Union) are forced to stay in the country of their entrance until their application for asylum is reviewed and accepted by a European country.This leaves a high concentration of refugees trapped in countries bordering the Mediterranean such as Italy and Greece, which border the Mediterranean. Unfortunately, these countries give little support to the Syrian families. With limited resources, many Syrians are unable to restart.
As the crisis worsens, a hero emerges. German Chancellor Merkell has signed a law allowing Syrians to stay in Germany as they apply for asylum. This small change is monumental for the thousands of refugees in Germany, who would otherwise face uncertainty in Europe. As Germany takes more responsibility for the Syrian refugees, pressure is taken off other European countries.
– Juyon Lee (’18)
Featured Image: UNHCR