It’s Time For The U.S. To Do More About The Refugee Crisis
Earlier this month, the photograph of 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi, who drowned trying to flee to Greece with his brother and mother, horrified the world and focused its attention on the ongoing refugee crisis in Syria and throughout the Middle East.
Since the Syrian Civil War started nearly five years ago, more than 210,000 Syrians have been killed, and an estimated 10 million Syrians have been displaced inside the country or in camps in neighboring countries. As the Syrian Refugee crisis worsens and now spreads to Europe, many now question what the responsibility of the western world is in helping to resolve both the refugee crisis and the ongoing conflict in Syria.
Many nations and world leaders have attempted to lend aid to refugees seeking asylum. Turkey has taken in over 1.9 million refugees who have fled the conflict in Syria. Another 1.1 million have fled to Lebanon, nearly 637,000 have been taken in by Jordan, and Germany is expected to take in 800,000 refugees by the end of the year.
While many have been welcoming to the refugees, many throughout Europe have come out viscerally against accepting refugees. The Prime Minister of Slovakia has refused to accept any refugees and while a spokesperson for the Hungarian Government said they would abide resettlement of refuges, the government has also constructed a 109-mile razor tipped fence around its border to keep migrants out of their country.
Meanwhile the United States has accepted 1,500 refugees thus far and is preparing to accept at least 10,000 Syrian refugees. This figure would be allocated out of a U.S. quota of 75,000 total refugee admissions slated for the next fiscal year. Many Americans; however, fear that even this is too many. Congressional Republicans have raised concerns for months over the possibility that Syrian extremists, including ISIS sympathizers, could enter the country passing themselves off as refugees.
It is understandable that when the world is faced with a horrific crisis, that fear seizes the hearts of many. Undeniably, there are challenges when meeting a crisis of this magnitude. While the future is unclear; however, history is always there to guide us.
History most clearly remembers actions, or the lack there of. Following Kristallnacht, thousands of Jewish refugees from Germany and Austria fled to the United States trying to escape the growing shadow of Nazism. Then as now, the conflict seemed to many Americans to be a distant one and none of our affairs. Then as now, many people feared what would happen if we accepted these refugees in the wake of the nation’s economic turmoil. Ultimately the United States never increased its quotas for refugees, and as a result many lives that could have been saved were lost.
We are once again faced as a nation with people seeking refuge from a faraway conflict. Men, women, and children all hoping to find peace and mercy in a world that they know is far too often chaotic and unmerciful. We can either chose to commit the same mistake twice, or we can act like the world leader that we truly want to be.
Cover Photo Credit: Takver/Flickr (CC by SA-2.0)
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