by ROSEMARIE BINGHAM '18
The Syrian Refugee Crisis is a current event that many are familiar with, but don’t fully understand. The crisis started in March 2011 after a group of daring teenagers painted subversive slogans on their school wall. Unhappy with the loss of their control, the government went to extremes to kill the teenagers and other reformists, later initiating violent protests throughout the streets. By July of that year, hundreds of thousands of protests had broken out around the country.
Both prior and more recent jihadists groups that have gotten involved aren’t making matters any better either. These events caused the Syrian Civil War, which is still going on today, and is growing increasingly violent. The Syrians have become tired of constantly fearing for their safety, and an estimated 9 million civilians (out of the approximate 23 million before the war started) have fled to various other countries. So far over 3 million have relocated to Syria’s neighboring countries; Turkey, Lebanon, and Iraq.
While these Syrians may be safer in other countries, there are still conflicts within these areas. For example, in August 2013 there was a newly opened easy-access border in Iraq. Refugees moved into Iraq without realizing they’d be sucked into Iraq’s own disunity. Now, Iraq is struggling to meet the needs of the new Syrians as well as trying to care for their own internally displaced Iraqis. Furthermore, in Turkey, Syrians have become overwhelming and have caused many cultural tensions. Though some refugees were able to find a way out of Syria, others are not so lucky. In fact, the UN predicts that 7.6 million people will be internally displaced, meaning these refugees are forced to leave their homes, but still remain inside the country.
It is hard to cater to the needs of so many people, but fortunately enough, refugees can find help. The United Nations High Commission of Refugees is the leading emergency response agency, which provides action to protect refugees and resolve refugee problems worldwide. Right now, there are 4 million refugees who have registered, or waiting to resister. It will take relatively $8.4 million to meet all their needs.
So where does the United States stand with all of this? So far, the US has taken in 1,500 refugees, however State Department spokesman John Kirby say he expects this number to double by the end of the year. There also may be 65,000 more waiting to enter. An online petition asking the United States to open its doors has gotten more than 54,000 signatures. Keep in mind that the US government is already the largest contributor to the crisis. This year alone, it has donated $1 billion going towards humanitarian assistance, and over $4 billion since the crisis began.