A Narrative of the Syrian Refugees Crisis

The Syrian refugees crisis is the most complex, challenging, cataclysmic, and trending humanitarian crisis of this epoch. As a result of the Syrian Civil War beginning in 2011, the...

The Syrian refugees crisis is the most complex, challenging, cataclysmic, and trending humanitarian crisis of this epoch. As a result of the Syrian Civil War beginning in 2011, the number of Syrian refugees that started increasing quickly and the situation escalated into a crisis. Estimates say that there were 4,289,792 Syrian refugees as of November 2015.

An additional 8 million have fled but do not have refugee status and more than 700,000 have risked their lives this year to travel to Europe. Most of the refugees fled to neighboring Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Kuwait, and Iraq. Turkey and Lebanon alone have taken more than 3 million refugees.

Thousands also ended up in more distant countries of the Caucasus, the Persian Gulf, North Africa and Europe.

The situation escalated at an extremely fast pace. In early July 2011, 15,000 Syrian citizens had taken shelter in tent cities, set up near Turkey’s border with Syria – By late June 2011, the number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon had reached around 10,000 – By mid-July 2011, the first Syrian refugees found safety in Jordan, with their numbers reaching 1,500 by December.

The upshot on children has been disheartening as children affected by the Syrian conflict are at risk of becoming ill, malnourished, abused, or exploited. Moreover, Millions have been forced to quit school.

The War:

In 2011 within the context of Arab Spring protests, the Syrian Civil War started with nationwide protests against President Bashar al-Assad’s authoritarian government. The response of his forces with violent crackdowns against the protesters gradually advanced into an armed rebellion after months of military sieges.

The death toll had risen above 220,000 as of January 2015, and international organizations have accused the Syrian government, ISIL and other opposition forces of severe human rights violations, with Chemical weapons being used to kill innocents.

In addition, tens of thousands of protesters and activists have been imprisoned with reports of torture in state prisons.

On the other side, rebels fighting the government have committed various crimes and have on multiple occasions called for genocide and ethnic cleansing of Christians, Alawites, Shiite, Druze and other minorities.

The crisis:

The 4-year apocalyptic results of this war saw the internal displacement of more than 7.6 million Syrians, and millions enduring in poor living conditions with shortages of food and drinking water.

As it is now, with bombings from different international quarters, with the terrible combatant ground activities, economic hardships and unfavorable social conditions, the war has made Syria one of the most insecure places to live in.

Since September 2013, official interregional responses and assistance to the refugees have been encouraging. This was after the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) got overwhelmed by hundreds of thousands in their camps, established in Syrian neighboring countries.

Sweden was the first EU-country to offer temporary residency to 8,000 Syrians. Later that month, Argentina and Brazil also decided to offer refuge to thousands of displaced Syrians; Brazil being the first country in the Americas region to offer humanitarian visas to Syrian refugees.

In the first half of 2015, large numbers of Syrian refugees crossed into European Union member states, reaching 313,000 UNHCR applications across Europe by early August 2015.

Last September, the European Union approved a plan committing itself to taking in 120,000 refugees. As of November, largest numbers were recorded in Germany with over 800,000; Sweden with over 78,000; Netherlands: 46,000; Austria, 18,000 and many more.

The Government of Canada has also announced that it would bring 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada by the end of 2015, and it welcomed the first people just a few days ago.

As of September, 2015, about $10 billion worth of humanitarian aid has been given to Syrian refugees with the EU and US as main donors.

Though the international response has been encouraging, highly capacitated countries like the US, France and UK should assist by taking in more refugees. The United Nations Security Council should end the power politics and differences within the major powers and make clear and real commitments to help resolve the Syrian Civil War through high-powered negotiations. Although that might be far-fetched as it is not the first time that power politics get the best of a crisis.

The continuation of the international community’s failure at a time Syrians need help most is a scar on this generation.

Categories
Human Rights
Mehari Fisseha

Mehari has graduated in Law and European Studies (Hons) from University of Limerick – Ireland; holds a Master degree in Peacebuilding from Coventry University – UK and a Master degree in Criminal Justice, Governance and Police science from Bochum University, Germany. He worked for refugee community in Ireland. He also worked for CARDOZO School of Law – Human Rights and Genocide clinic. Mehari is a passionate advocate on Human Rights and Development issues. He is also interested in the reform of the United Nations.
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