For the past seven years
For the past seven years, a civil war has been waging in Syria between Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, and multiple rebel groups who no longer want him in power, and the extremist Islamic State (ISIS). As these three powers continue to clash, other countries also add fuel to the fire. Iran and Russia are relentlessly supporting the Syrian government. Meanwhile, the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey continue to back the rebels. Life for Syrians continues to worsen as these groups fight against each other taking the measure they find necessary, measures that include missile attacks in towns like Douma led by the Russian or twin bombs blasted in Damascus leaving the town with fifty casualties. These “measures” have left innocent men, women, and children to be murdered and families to be ripped apart. In the hope that they can flee the evils going on in their, home millions of Syrians have decided to migrate to refugee camps, urban areas in neighboring countries, and risk their lives to go to another country. These choices are near impossible with almost no good outcome. Yet, if they decide to stay, they become vulnerable to exploitation, torture, and kidnapping by their own government. First-world countries shouldn’t allow Syrians to gamble with their lives. Instead, they should give them opportunities to immigrate and integrate into their societies, which will ultimately even help improve the receiving countries economically and socially.
If Syrians decide to flee they have the option to go to camps or live in urban neighboring countries like Lebanon that allow Syrians to reside there. The issue is these camps and urban neighborhoods are they lack sanitation, enough shelter, and food. Children here are more vulnerable to exploitation such as violence and sexual abuse. It’s unfair that innocent children who didn’t cause the war on Syria to happen should be punished so cruelly. Also, in these refugee camps, the living conditions are so poor that residents have begun to protest against it. Refugee camps are often located in the desert where the temperatures get very hot during the day and terribly cold at night. Leaving Syrians to live in inhumane conditions. Meanwhile, in urban areas, things are not better. Discrimination and harassment have risen in towns in Lebanon where Syrian refugees now outnumber the number of Lebanese citizens. At first when Syrians first migrated to these towns in 2011 the Lebanese welcomed them with open arms letting in at least half million refugees. But according to Human Watch, they’ve now “documented evictions in 13 towns and villages putting more than 3,600 Syrians on the streets since 2017” (Bandow). Now all of these refugees are back to square one, without a home that accepts them. Syrian refugees are left in a limbo where they cannot progress or get a better life for themselves because the odds are so stacked against them.
But, despite these options, an increasing amount of Syrians have decided to take dangerous journeys to other countries. These refugees pay 1,000 to at least 2,500 dollars to pay smugglers to smuggle them into other countries on small, dingy, overcrowded boats. Passengers would often have to bend their knees to their chest in order for everyone to fit, packed like sardines in a small boat with the looming thought over their heads that they could easily drown. Syrians gamble with their lives for the opportunity to live a life that is worth living. A Syrian who through this traumatic experience described it as something “he would never forget even if he lived 200 years. This was the first time in his life he felt he was about to die”(Dearden). Human beings shouldn’t have to go through inhumanely conditions and trials to be happy.
Yet, if Europe and North America allow more Syrian refugees in, they give their economy and opportunity to grow. According to CNN, since Trump has been in office he has “accepted just over 11,000 refugees from nearly 60 countries, including 44 from Syria” (Brumfield and Fantz). Meanwhile, places like the U.K have accepted 8,000 refugees and plan to allow only 20,000 in by 2020. Instead of shutting refugees out, countries should allow refugee numbers to grow and with it the economical benefits. In Turkey, they’ve allowed 2.34 million Syrian refugees to stay if they wanted to. As a result, these Syrians were able to their own companies, benefitting the population for “every one percent increase in Syrian companies’ capital brought a 0.2 percent increase to the average daily earnings of all registered laborers” (Bandow). Although many argue that immigrants take jobs away, they don’t. In a study by Francine D. Blau, an economics professor at Cornell University, “found little to no negative effects on overall wages and employment of native-born workers in the longer term.” Instead, if presented with the opportunity, they could be able to create businesses that are able to provide more jobs for natives in the host country. Noor Al Mousa, a Syrian refugee who fled to Jordan then left for the U.S four years later, is a prime example of refugees helping out the economy. When she first moved American volunteers helped her sell Syrian sweets at a farmers market. Tan Jakwani, co-founder of Syrian Sweets, later helped Mousa sell sweets at a bake sale. This bake sale hosted 800 people and these Syrian sweets were soon sold out. Examples like this show refugees can help boost economies if countries gave them the chance.
Once immigration if refugees are accepted, integrating cultures should be as well. Barzan and Lennart are an example of the benefits of integrating families. Lennarts’ family decided to take in Barzan, a 15-year-old Syrian refugee, and look after him. This experience allowed Barzan to bond with his new family. They begin to cook together as a way “to show that cooking is something we all share as equals” (DW Documentary 00:08:19). By allowing a refugee like Barzan to live with them and help him integrate into Germany’s society shows how society can benefit from refugees. In addition, at Dewson Middle School in Toronto, Canada they have also been very welcoming toward Syrian refugees. Kelly Gallagher-Mackay, a parent at the school, approached the school board with the idea to sponsor a refugee family, helping with the refugee crisis. The middle school raised $30,000 for this Syrian family to be able to resettle. By doing this the children at the middle school were educated about the crisis that was going on in Syria and was even able to formulate their own ideas about the subject in a mini discussion. One student described it as “unfair” and later on realized how difficult it must be to move to another country “where you don’t even speak the language” (CBC News: The National 00:01:22). This program was later picked up by 30 other schools across Toronto. These students were able to become more self-aware about the world around them and the injustices some people have to face on a day to day basis. By becoming such welcoming neighbors a community was able to grow and learn more about different cultures. People in this town are able to tap into one another’s culture and are brought together by this.
In conclusion, those forced to flee in the fear of being persecuted in their own country should be welcomed with open arms by other countries. They rest of the world shouldn’t just watch as families are torn apart and innocent people are killed by a government that doesn’t seem to care about its people. Although, it may seem impossible to change the outcome of this crisis it’s not. It is possible to donate to organizations such as CRS (Catholic Relief Services) that donate the money and goods directly to the families that have been displaced. In addition, fundraisers and advocating for those that do not have a voice makes a huge difference. Despite the how minuscule one person impact may seem in the grand scheme if it helps one Syrian family that is a great difference. We don’t have to raise large sums of money or start organizations, even the simple things like raising awareness can go a long way.