One day in September of 2014, 8-year old Hamsa Bahir woke up to go to school. He got ready as usual, and then started to walk to his school. However, when he arrived at his destination, he was horrified to find that his school, which was located in Hom, Syria, was bombed out by extremist fighters. The bombings and shootings in his area became much more frequent, and, in fear, he and his family have fled their hometown and now reside in a refugee camp in Jordan.
Hamsa is one of the 51 million people affected by the violence in the Middle East. Syria, in particular, has become the world’s largest and foremost source of refugees; with more people needing help and seeking refuge than the surrounding countries can take in, there has been a refugee crisis like no other.
To fully comprehend the Syrian Refugee Crisis, it helps to understand how the situation in the Middle East came to be. During the Arab Spring, which was a series of uprisings, conflicts, and protests in the Middle East, several authoritarian regimes were taken down by these protests. However, this was not the case in Syria. Instead of coming down somewhat easily, as the other dictators had, Bashir
Al-Assad, the dictator of Syria, countered the peaceful protests with militaristic force and violence, starting a civil war in Syria. With the government preoccupied with the brutal civil war, a terror group called ISI (the Islamic State of Iraq) took charge and entered the existing conflict, expanding its control into Syria, becoming ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria). This group, led by militant Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi went around the country wreaking havoc and freeing jihadi prisoners, who would then join the growing extremist insurgency, having ISIS grow bigger and more powerful by the day.
Between the growing extremist group in the area, and the violent civil war, millions of people, the majority of which being women and children, were left with their homes destroyed and no place to go. They would gather what little they could take with them, and flee the terror, beginning their long and treacherous journey as refugees.
The areas surrounding Iraq and Syria have bitten off more than they could chew, taking in hundreds of thousands each year. Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon, and Europe are taking in 95% of the 4.3 million Syrian Refugees. This ends up resulting in conditions in camps to be uninhabitable, with a lack of food, water, and medical assistance. Meanwhile, countries who are most fit to take in refugees, such as the U.S. and the European Union, take in fewer people than they could and should.
Many people believe the U.S. should not take in any refugees, due to the fact that they may be undercover ISIS militants seeking to terrorize the countries they enter and posing as refugees. And after the attacks in Paris, which left 130 people dead, this fear is valid in people’s eyes.
Allowing refugees into the U.S. would theoretically provide a rather easy access to more targets for ISIS. Also, it is thought that if too many refugees are let in, it will lead to a Muslim majority into the U.S. These refugees may have criminal tendencies, and it is feared that they will form crime groups that burden the streets of America. With this thought in mind, it is easy to see how some people believe the U.S. should shut out all of the refugees, and leave this problem to work itself out.
On the other hand; logic, facts, and ethics point to why the U.S. should let refugees into the country. Though many individuals believe that the refugees are terrorists and that they shouldn’t be let in for that cause alone, that statement couldn’t be farther from the truth.
The refugees seeking homes in the Western world are no different than other Americans: having families and children who are in desperate need of care. 75% of all refugees are women and children, and by turning them away, it is likely that they will suffer elsewhere.
Most of the military age males, or rebels, stay back in their hometowns to fight against the Syrian government in the Civil War–or try to protect what is left of their property. Most, if not all, of the Syrian Refugees are innocent people, who want nothing more than a roof over their heads.
To further prove this claim, the United States took in 800,000 refugees from the Middle East in the last 15 years, and out of those, only 3 of them were arrested due to suspicious behavior. This percentage is extremely low, which shows that the government can and will catch terrorists with the use of Federal Background Checks; showing that there is little danger of terrorism when taking in refugees.
However, the point most commonly brought up against this claim would be the Paris attacks of November 2015. The terrorists came in disguised as refugees, right? Nope.
The perpetrators of these gruesome attacks were registered French citizens, who had lived in France, but were influenced by ISIS motives. This further shows that the refugees coming into modern countries are not terrorists, but innocent people.
The second fear is that taking in refugees will make for both a Muslim majority and a higher crime rate. However, even if the U.S. alone took in every single one of the 4.3 million refugees, the Muslim population will go from about 1% to 2%. This is clearly a minuscule increase, and will not give a noticeable effect.
However, even with facts and statistics to prove that taking in Syrian refugees won’t hurt, one question still persists: Why?
Why go through all of this trouble taking in refugees when we have nothing to do with the crisis? Because it is the ethically and morally right thing to do. As a progressive nation, the U.S. shouldn’t be reluctantly taking in refugees; they should be jumping in without thought, trying to help as many people and take in as many refugees as we can.
So, now that it is evident the perspective we should be taking on this terrible issue, what would be a solution?
The plan of action should be to allow as many refugees in as possible, while still being conscious about checking their backgrounds, and verifying that they are indeed not terrorists. This will significantly help the crisis, along with potentially boosting the economy, and saving hundreds and thousands of innocent lives.
Hamsa, along with thousands of other refugees, is losing hope that his situation will get better anytime soon and take a boat to Turkey in hopes of finding a better place to stay. Him, along with the other 10 people on the small inflatable boat, left Jordan in August of 2015 and were never heard from again. They never arrived at their destination, and it is likely that their boat sank in the Mediterranean Sea and the occupants all drowned. Scenarios like this will become much less common if the refugees were welcome with open arms.
Daniels, Owen. “4 Reasons the US Should Support the Resettlement of Syrian Refugees.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 23 Nov. 2015. Web. 06 Mar. 2016. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/owen-daniels/four-reasons-the-us-shoul_b_8630704.html>.
The European Refugee Crisis and Syria Explained. YouTube. YouTube, 17 Sept. 2015. Web. 06 Mar. 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RvOnXh3NN9w>.
The Rise of ISIS, Explained in 6 Minutes. Perf. Johnny Harris and Max Fisher. YouTube. Vox, 16 Dec. 2015. Web. 06 Mar. 2016. <https://youtu.be/pzmO6RWy1v8>.
Salopek, Paul. “Fleeing Terror, Finding Refuge.” National Geographic. N.p., Mar. 2015. Web. 06 Mar. 2016. <http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2015/03/syrian-refugees/salopek-text>.
Zunes, Stephen. “The U.S. and the Rise of ISIS.” The U.S. and the Rise of ISIS. National Catholic Reporter, 10 Dec. 2015. Web. 06 Mar. 2016. &l
Photo Credit: http://www.elizabethlandrum.com/blog/top-6-reasons-behind-the-refugee-debate
Title Credit: John Ballinger