Since 2011, almost 12 million people have been displaced by the Syrian crisis. Cities have been bombed and destroyed by Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad’s ruthless regime. Refugee’s lives have been imperiled by terrorist groups.
Human rights are constantly violated. Basic necessities like food, shelter, and medical care are extremely scarce. Almost 7.6 million people are internally displaced. Many are forced to either flee to safer areas in Syria or to seek refuge in other countries. The majority of Syrian refugees are currently living in Jordan and Lebanon. However in these countries, there is weak infrastructure and limited resources. After years of refugees struggling and escaping to safety, Europe is finally acknowledging the magnitude of the refugee crisis.
Germany’s Chancellor Merkel responded to the refugee crisis with the declaration: “Wir schaffen es – We can do it.” (Merkel) As Germany has the most Syrian requests for asylum in Europe, Chancellor Angela Merkel called for help and support. She asked for other European countries to take a share of displaced people, which included refugees from Syria. Germany was presumed to receive about 98,700 asylum requests from just Syria alone.The response to Merkel’s plea for support was not positive.
Many European nations have clarified that they aren’t willing to accept many immigrants and refugees into their countries, even with the current crisis. Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban prefers to see refugees and asylum seekers bypass Hungary in their journey west. Orban took an extreme measure by building a barbed-wire fence along entire border between Hungary and Serbia. Along with this fence, he created a new law so that any fence crossing is a criminal offense. Moreover, Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico made a statement, persuading his citizens that refugees wouldn’t belong is Slovakia. He said, “migrants arriving in Europe do not want to stay in Slovakia.
They don’t have a base for their religion here, their relatives, they would run away anyway.” (Fico) Furthermore, the Romanian government rejected the proposed allotment of 4,646 refugees and were only willing to take in 1,785. The Danish government used a costly campaign that was advertised in popular Lebanese newspapers, urging refugees to not seek refuge Denmark. I chose to investigate this real life situation with a TOK approach because I feel that this is an important global issue, and it needs to be investigated so that we can understand why some of the more privileged countries in Europe refuse to help people that are in need. I have travelled to many countries in the middle east and Africa where numerous refugee groups have settled in order to escape their homes and countries because of persecution due to political, religious, military, or other predicaments. However, it is very noticeable how these countries become overcrowded and have limited resources.
For example, a few years ago, I witnessed this when I visited a refugee camp in Jordan called Zaatari camp. This refugee camp is supported by the UNHCR and is the second largest refugee camp in the world. Most of the refugees there are people fleeing from the Syrian crisis. I was appalled to see how so many refugees were crammed in such a small camp in such an underdeveloped country. This experience made me wonder why more developed countries were not helping refugees.In my opinion, Syrian refugees should have the rights to seek a better life in European countries. They have already experienced the horrific predicaments of the war and took an arduous journey to Europe.
No one would risk their lives or their family’s lives to escape to another country if they had any other possible alternative. Families walk for miles through harsh conditions, and at the end, they must face the consequences of entering a new country. I believe that the world should do its part to help human beings in need. Unfortunately, after the series of terrorist attacks that happened on Friday, November 13, 2015, at least 24 governors of France, expressing fears about terrorism, are taking action through executive order, a request to federal officials to prevent Syrian refugees from settling in their states.
The rest of Europe is also more and more reluctant to accept Syrian refugees. On the other hand, images such as the now famous photograph of the 3 year-old dead refugee child floating on the Turkish island brings out compassion in individuals who want to help. I truly believe that privileged countries can do more to help the refugee crisis.