Syrian Refugee Crisis

This is the link to a current event I found interesting:

The Syrian civil war began four years ago in 2011 during a peak of the Arab Spring protests, and it continues today. After watching the overthrow of dictators in Egypt and Libya, Syrians were inspired to obtain similar freedoms by staging large protests against Syrian president Bashar al-Assad; however, the protesters were only met with violent retaliation from the government. Now around four million Syrians are fleeing their country to escape the turmoil: many flee in masses to Europe while others seek refuge in other Middle East countries. A number of Middle East countries in close proximity to Syria–such as Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, and even Iraq–are accepting thousands to millions of refugees, but many wealthier Persian Gulf countries also in close proximity to Syria–such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Qatar–are denying all refugees. The actions of these Persian Gulf countries create controversy, but the countries justify their actions by stating they have already donated millions of dollars to the cause. Furthermore, while the Persian Gulf countries are members of the U.N, “legally, they’re not obliged to help” since they are the few in the world who have not signed a 1951 U.N. treaty about refugees (Anderson, Elwazer, and Fantz).

While the Persian Gulf countries have contributed to the Syrian refugee cause through monetary donations, “the situation is so bad and there’s such a huge immediate need” that it seems necessary that the Gulf countries contribute more than money to help these desperate refugees (qtd in Anderson, Elwazer, and Fantz). Masses of Syrians are showing up in Europe; millions risk their lives to journey across the Mediterranean to safety. Recently, the body of a Syrian toddler attempting to make the journey with his family washed up on the shores of Turkey. The heartbreaking image of the 3 year-old toddler depicts the magnitude of this horrid situation. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Qatar are among the most wealthy and stable countries in the Middle East, and they should use this power and influence to do the humanitarian thing and accept these refugees into their country.

While this CNN article criticizes Persian Gulf countries’ refusal to accept the refugees, there are many more countries around the world that must also be criticized for their inadequate help with this crisis: specifically the United States. Both Lebanon and Turkey have HDI rankings significantly lower than that of the U.S.; however, both of these poorer countries are accepting thousands more refugees. The U.S has been donating money, but just as the Persian Gulf countries should do, the United States must start making a greater effort to help with this crisis by accepting more refugees. The Syrian civil war has been a continuing matter for the past four years, but it has received minimal media coverage. Only after the aforementioned image of the dead toddler appeared did this crisis begin to gain more attention. The media is a critical link between people and global current events, and it dictates what it wants viewers to hear. The latest stories of what Donald Trump said or the Kentucky clerk’s refusal to issue same-sex marriage licenses seem insignificant to this refugee disaster. While the statistics are overwhelming, they are, after all, just numbers; however, these numbers represent real humans.  The horrors of watching your home get destroyed, being forced to flee to a country where you don’t even speak the language, and not knowing what’s to come the next day seem so foreign. But hopefully, the image of the dead toddler demonstrates that this situation is, in fact, very real and very awful and that countries must do their part to help the largest refugee crisis since the Holocaust.


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