With 9 million refugees fleeing their war-ravaged homes, we have to ask ourselves: are we doing enough?
Your name is Nur Abadi, and you are terrified. This moment marks the first time you have stood on non-Syrian soil; your feet drag through the salty soup of Greece’s shoreline. Your heart remains miles away, where your children are awakening in a country made dusty and bloody by relentless warfare. Yet, the beating in your chest plays on, a gift of life withheld from 2,850 Syrians this year alone who have drowned in their attempts to reach safety. You are one of the 9 million refugees who have fled Syria since the 2011 Syrian Arab Spring. The revolution has caused the Syrian Arab Republic to disintegrate into chaotic guerrilla warfare between moderate rebels, extremist rebels and the President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
Have I captured your attention? Keep reading.
The violence has rendered Syria uninhabitable. Chemical assaults account for over 1,300 deaths by sarin, the deadliest of neurotoxins. The first nine months of 2015 alone have brought 380,000 refugees, more than all reported refugees in 2014. These numbers have continued on an exponential accent, transforming the plight of a single Middle Eastern country into a worldwide crisis. Nations have stopped wagging their fingers at the Syrian government and have begun to waive their pitchforks.
Global affairs, such as the conflict in Syria, breed interest groups that further national agendas. Russia and the U.S. have traded verbal lashings from opposite sides of the global stage. Fortunately, both countries are personally invested in resolving the conflict in Syria. Unfortunately, they express their support through weaponry, magnifying the destruction caused by warfare. This international involvement characterizes a phenomenon known as “proxy war.”
Basically, countries take it outside. Of their own borders, that is.
Russia pledges loyalty to extremist groups and President Assad, more accurately described as Dictator Assad. If Russia is successful, the international community will be forced to chose between a Syrian country commanded by ISIS or Assad. While Assad is far from a fan-favorite, ISIS as the alternative would default the government into his grasp. Russia would cheers a glass of Stolichnaya to Assad’s victory, a political event which would ensure the profit and monopoly of their only non-soviet trading port, in Tartus.
Somebody should tell Russia they’re holding their guns backwards.
After the war resolves, the Syrian government’s priority will be the resurrection of Syria’s legitimacy, infrastructure, population and economy. Syria will not be able to budget the significant international trade which is necessary to render any remote benefit to Russia.
The United States supports the moderate rebels, who they believe to be the lesser evil. Disclaimer: The moderate rebels with whom the U.S. have aligned themselves have no common direction, thus no prospects of stabilization.
“What’s all this about rubber boats and refugees?”
Refugees are seeking asylum in nearby countries by the inflatable boat-loads. They arrive day and night; some in plastic dinghies of the battered, half-sunken variety, others in fishermen boats transformed into makeshift rescue missions and others still who make the last miles of their voyage floating pulseless to shore.
Immigrants come because they pursue dreams of a better life. Refugees come because they have to: they are persecuted, abused and discriminated upon. Immigrants leave; refugees escape. The sheer quantity of refugees are imposing an extreme strain on the neighboring countries who receive them. This burden is compounded by separate, pre-existing turmoil among and within the nations. Three million are currently harbored by Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq. The situation is not sustainable.
“But we are going to help them, aren’t we?” We’re trying. Brace yourself for the numbers.
In September, the European Union (EU) predicated that 160,000 refugees must be immediately distributed among its member states. Under the EU’s most recent dissemination initiative, Germany will lead the efforts by welcoming 31,443 additional refugees. German Vice Chancellor, Sigmar Gabriel, predicts asylum requests in Germany to exceed 800,000 within the year, 500,000 of which will be granted annually for years to come. Snaps, Germany.
France takes the silver metal by accepting 24,031 refugees, and Spain receives the bronze for the 14,931 they have agreed to host. The United States gets a participation ribbon for the 1,800 they’ve admitted since 2011. While President Obama recently guaranteed 10,000 refugees asylum by the end of the fiscal year, even this new number is tragically miniscule compared to the 65,000 many human rights groups believe the U.S. should accommodate by 2016. This is considered to be the biggest migrant crisis since World War II.
Many people fear that major intervention by the U.S. and allies will worsen the conflict. Others consider it a moral obligation to assist fellow human beings in dire need. If the global community’s hesitation to take decisive action on behalf of the Syrian people originates from national interests, they should be aware that the refugee crisis will affect their countries indiscriminately. In the coming months, countries will have to decide their course of action: take preventative measures within Syria or continue damage control.
For the sake of Nur Abadi, let’s hope they find their humanity. And fast.
By: Natalia Claro ’18