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The Syrian refugee crisis involves Syrian people who are fleeing their country to find safe places for themselves and their family to live. Syria’s civil war is the worst humanitarian crisis of our time and this social group is caught in the middle of a war where people are killed every day by their own people. They can’t risk staying in the war zone, so they are escaping to other countries, either illegally or with the help of other countries to enter camps. This has been going on five years now and there has been barley any improvement in Syria nor any improvement in the daily lives of these refugees. Besides not having a home anymore and the friends and family they lost, the biggest struggle for this social group is getting by every day.
So how did this all start? The origin of this problem started in February 2011, when revolts to overturn Tunisian and Egyptian Presidents began, which was known as the Arab Spring. In Syria, it started as a peaceful protest until “15 boys were detained and tortured for having written graffiti in support of the Arab Spring” (Jazeera), and one of the boys even died from being so brutally beaten. After that the Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad, demanded that the Syrian government shut down the protests immediately, and did so by having his military kill hundreds of protestors. This sparked a group of Syrian soldiers to defect from the Syrian Army because they didn’t want to harm innocent protestors, especially when they agree with the protestors. These defected soldiers then formed the Free Syrian Army that promised to wage war until the Syrian government is overthrown, which produced a civil war. The reason the people wanted to overthrow the government was because the lack of freedom and economic security due to the Syrian government. Global warming has even played a role in this uprising because a severe drought has burdened Syria for three years which caused people to migrate into cities, which increased poverty and social unrest. The government didn’t do anything to help these cities in a desperate position. To add onto all of this, the United Stated and Russia are bombing Syria due to presence of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS). Russia even sent weapons to the rebel groups in Syria. As you can see, there is extravagant violence going on, leaving the citizens right in the middle of a war zone. These citizens have no choice but to leave before they are killed, most likely by their own government.
With growing violence, tension, and damage to their country, Syrian people have no other option than to seek a better life elsewhere. It is hard for them to leave Syria because it is a war zone in pretty much all areas, “the Assad government controls the capital, Damascus, parts of southern Syria, portions of Aleppo and Deir Az Zor, much of the areas near the Syrian-Lebanese border, and the northwestern coastal region. Rebel groups, ISIS, and Kurdish forces control the rest of the country” (Jazeera). Majority of these Syrian families are separated because the men go out and fight, or are killed in the attack by both sides, obviously women and children are part of the death toll as well. “60,000 people have died only two years into this war” (Thompson), causing the United States to send food and medical supplies, but no weapons. European countries were sending weapons, but this didn’t help, the rebels army actually weakened as time went on.
In August 2013, hundreds of people were killed in a chemical weapons attack against the rebels, and Turkish governments continue to bomb Syria. There is talk about peace between the governments, but no solution is made, by February 2014, “140,000 Syrians are now dead and hundreds of thousands are displaced” (Thompson). The worst part about these airstrikes is that more civilians die than actual targets, and they continue to destroy homes and communities. In 2015, ISIS members blow up and destroy ancient temples, shrines, and artifacts that are considered to be priceless. Things went from bad to worse, and the remaining people in that their country realize it is a free-for-all in Syria, and they have lost hope and wish to find safety elsewhere.
Families are struggling to survive in Syria and even if they’re lucky enough to escape, they are still struggling for basic human needs like water, food, shelter, and medicine. Most refugees are in camps but some go on their own and hope to find opportunity elsewhere. There are harsh winters and extremely hot summers, making the lives of these already distraught people even more difficult. The one’s in camps live in cubicles made of tarps or fabric, therefore, in the winter it is extremely hard for these refugees. They have received a lot of support from other countries and programs that assist them with needs but it’s not even close to enough, “13.5 million Syrian refugees are still in need of humanitarian assistance” (World Vision Staff). When these people decide to leave, they bring only what they can carry on their backs. They don’t have moving trucks or even cars to bring everything they want. They leave behind their entire life and even friends and family. The walk to safety is extremely dangerous as well, especially due to malnutrition and dehydration. These people are risking their lives staying in Syria and also attempting to leave Syria.
Many of these refugees are heading for and living in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Egypt, but these countries have poor infrastructure and limited resources. Some illegally cross the border in Turkey while others look for an entirely new start in Europe. Even when away from the violence, they still struggle to live a normal life. The people in the camps really struggle, but even refugees who have access to human needs and a good daily life can’t find jobs to support themselves and their family. For example, a man named “Adnan Almekdad is a former veterinarian from southern Syria, where he ran a large-animal clinic…spent another decade as a manager at several pharmaceutical startups. He also published two books” (Grant). This same man who has been so successful in Syria, cannot find a job in Canada and has been in Canada as a refugee for over a year, the reason for this is the gap in his resume. This gap in his resume is due to fleeing Syria to find a safe home for his family, and all the time it took him to be able to settle in Canada, 4 years to be exact. He is a lucky man to be with his family in shelter and safety, but for others, they are not so lucky.
In the refugee camps these people live in dirt and find heat through burning trash. The only source of income they have is when the children sell items they find, like cardboard or bottles. Some children sell new products like tissues, but could you imagine seeing a child on the streets all alone selling tissues, of all things? Children affected by the Syrian conflict “are at risk of becoming ill, malnourished, abused, or exploited. Millions have been forced to quit school” (World Vision Staff), this includes women as well. These people are barely getting education therefore even if they are safe, they have no way to contribute to society and support themselves. In Freire’s “Pedagogy of the Oppressed,” I learned that human development is the process by which an individual develops self-respect and builds self-esteem through working with others and acquiring new skills and knowledge to participate in the economic, social, and political development of their community. It also says that the people should refuse to participate in their own exploitation, but these people can’t really develop themselves because they barely have the knowledge or resources to do so therefore how can they be confident in themselves? Parts of the world realize that even if the war is stopped, they’re still going to have millions of people who can’t contribute to society, so they help educate the refugees, especially the children in any way they can.
Another big problem and disagreement between the people across the world is why aren’t we helping and sending aid, like food, water, and medicine to these refugees? We are, in fact we are sending a lot, but a lot of countries don’t want to send all their aid because of the fear that something might happen in their country and they won’t have the supplies for their own people. Also, there is enough food in the world to provide to these refugees, but the in the world we live in, the food only goes to the markets that can pay for them. It is estimated that it will take “$7.7million billion to meet the urgent needs of the most vulnerable Syrians in 2016” (Mercy Corps), that’s just for the people who are the most vulnerable! That statistic shows why they aren’t receiving food, they can’t afford it. A lot of countries also refuse to let Syrian refugees into their country due to fear and/or not wanting to have to take responsibility nor pay for these people’s food, shelter and healthcare. Countries have their own internal problems, and adding anywhere close to $7.7 billion will set back any country in what programs and things they are trying to achieve.
When thinking about what I’ve learned in class, I think a great way to help some people to mimic CIDICCO and create a bank that gives out loans to these people and/or they can keep their money in there and grow interest. The problem with this though, is that there are too many people to give out money to all of them. Therefore, my solution isn’t realistic. These people just need some sort of spark to get their lives going and be able to live on their own. These camps should be made into communities instead and have huge farms where the refugees can work themselves and will barley need food aid.
Currently, Syrian refugees have not been able improve their situation, sadly. Children will do anything to distract themselves from hunger, which usually includes playing with other children with the ruble around them, the refugee camps do not have a safe place for children to play. A lot of these children lost their parents in Syria and are on their own. Mother’s cook in unsanitary conditions, and barley have the supplies to support their children, let alone themselves. This situation is a depressing and horrible experience that no one should have to face in their lifetime, but there are so many of these refugees that it’s making it impossible to care for all of them.
There have been several meetings with Syria and other governments to make peace, but they all failed. A ceasefire was announced in February 2016 and stopped the fighting in some parts of Syria, but with other governments continuing to bomb them, I’m not sure how long that will last. Syria is mostly ruins now, and millions have fled the country due to a traumatizing war. Fleeing isn’t easy, it involves a lot of smuggling and human trafficking, it also means risking their lives traveling in unsafe trucks and boats. Once they are out, they now have to fend for themselves. Even if they’re lucky enough to be in a camp, they still face hunger, lack of education, thirst, overcrowding, traumatization, and malnutrition. All things considered and in the final analysis of Syria, even if the war ends, rebuilding this country and its people will be a lengthy, extremely difficult process.
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