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The Humanitarian Disaster: What We Need to Know



Boston University


The Humanitarian Disaster: What We Need to Know

The real, simplified story of the Syrian Refugees

Maria Rudloff


Most people have heard about the Syrian refugees.

We’ve seen brief headlines and scrolled past some pictures - but in reality, to most of us it's just background noise like the rest of whatever we scroll through everyday.

Syria, refugees, ISIS, the Middle East, terrorism etc., have all developed a distant associations in the back of our minds - but that’s about it.

What is going on in Syria right now? What is the Syrian refugee Crisis? Most of us unfortunately do not know the answer. We just recognize a distant familiarity.

Our detachment to the subject is not surprising. We live in a world of constant external stimuli. We keep up with the latest trending topics on Buzzfeed, watching “Tasty” viral videos on Facebook, endlessly scrolling for the next thing to rapidly satisfy our procrastination before moving on to the next viral thread. But within our constant internet ridden stupor, we are missing some pretty important headlines like the Syrian Refugee crisis, the biggest humanitarian disaster of our time.

To truly understand the humanitarian atrocities in Syria, you need basic understanding of the civil war, how it’s being fought, and who is involved.

It’s really complicated, but here’s some general context.

The Syrian Civil War broke out in 2011 following the Arab Spring, which was a string of violent and nonviolent anti-government protests that took place in much of the Middle East during the spring of 2011. The Syrian’s hoped to follow the success other countries found (not that most of the protests were successful...but you get the idea).

The people fought to end the corrupt, authoritarian presidency of Bashar al-Assad. When he chose to meet the protests with violent force and repression, shit hit the fan and the civil war broke out.

Today, the war continues with no visible end in sight.

Syria is more fragmented and war torn than ever before. The country has essentially been broken up into the Syrian government, several rebel groups, and the Islamic State (ISIL), otherwise known as “Daesh” in the Arab world.

Middle Eastern politics are unpredictable and fast changing - but one thing has remained constant throughout the entirety of the war, there have been horrific human right violations committed by most internal and external groups infiltrating the country. These war crimes are being committed by the Syrian government, the rebel groups, and yes, ISIS.

The experiences that the people of Syria have been going through can not be overstated. Torturing of civilians, public executions and dismemberments, rape, mass killings, bombs… even civilian suffering (starvation, lack of medical help, and entrapment) have all been used as weapons to fight this war. You see why there’s a refugee problem?

In the words of one of the 4.8 million Syrian refugees that managed to escape, Qassem a 33 year old father three who had to flee because there was shelling everyday in his family's neighborhood, “we're apprehensive about life in Jordan but we had to leave. I carried my two daughters for a mile through the mud to get to the border”.

They fled to Jordan, like many refugees, shelter is mostly only available in the neighboring countries despite the overwhelming numbers trying to find a new home. Which brings us to the WHY this is such a humanitarian disaster: the global response (or lack thereof).

The UN has said that 13.5 million people (including 6 million children), require some form of immediate humanitarian assistance. Turkey (with 2 million) and Lebanon (with 1 million) have taken in the most refugees. Europe has taken in 10%, with Germany taking in the most with 158,657 million refugees this past year. The US has taken in 10,000 people, not even. 10,000 out of 13.5 million. You see the crisis now?

The politics of the Syrian Refugee crisis have twisted and turned relentlessly since its inception. Politicians from all over the world are incredibly hesitant to allow for Syrians to come in the numbers that the people need to survive.

Politicians, especially American ones, have been really good at scaring the fuck out of the ignorant, uneducated population in leading them to believe that many of these Syrian refugees are coming to bring the terror from Syria to our front step. The immensely exaggerated risks of allowing refugees in and the denial that the vetting that these refugees go through is not enough to filter out the ~terrorists~ is wrong.

Politics aside, you are turning people away from a country suffering under attack of terrorism, murder, and complete political upheaval. They need all the help they can get, and that is a stone cold fact.

This is a crisis that must be addressed and we must be educated in order to attend to it. We must snap out of our scrolling trance and stop and let the important things stick. Politicians must approach the Syrian people begging for help with open arms and rid of xenophobic, islamophobic rhetoric they use to misinform and provoke fear.

Here in the land of the free, our president elect has made plans to ban all refugees from coming into the country, as if though only letting in 10 thousand wasn’t embarrassing enough.

In the words of Nada, one of the very few (and maybe last) Syrian refugees admitted into the US, “I hope Americans will welcome us. I hope we do not disappoint them.”

Well, in return I hope that we don’t disappoint you.