The conundrum that is the refugee crisis

Published: September 20, 2015

The ongoing civil war in Syria has led to one of the worst refugee crises in history since the Second World War. An alarming number of refugees — three million — have fled their worn-torn countries, while the number of internally displaced people stands at six million, according to official figures provided by the United Nations Human Commissioner for Refugees. If these statistics don’t paint a hellish picture, recently released numbers state that one of every five displaced persons on earth is a Syrian.

What’s more shocking than the numbers is the reaction this global crisis garnered from countries and leaders worldwide. The civil war in Syria, an unwanted product of the Arab Spring, has been going on since 2011. Fast-forward to 2015 and finally, the Syrian refugee crisis is making headlines. But what took the media and the world four years to recognise the plight of these helpless refuges?

The dead body of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi washed ashore on the Turkish coastline. This incident rightly shook the world and plans of accommodating refugees were announced by the heads of the European Union (EU) states immediately. Chancellor Angela Merkel set a forthright example by stating that Germany will take in half a million refugees annually, with Spain, France, and the UK following suit, each stating a different number of refugees they will be able to accommodate.

This particular region in the Middle East has had its fair share of issues, such as the Iraq war, Israeli aggression and the rising threat of the Islamic State. Therefore, it is understandable why Syria’s neighbouring countries have failed to provide the expected aid. But what about the oil-rich Gulf countries? Where are the leaders and rulers of these states while their Muslim brothers suffer? They’re in the US, expressing their concerns over the Iran-US nuclear deal.

A continent thousands of miles away is willing to accept Syrian refugees, but countries which are a stone’s throw away from Syria have seemingly sealed their hearts and borders, and have failed to speak up or address this issue. Humanity is dying a slow and painful death. At a time when nations need to unite, everyone stands divided. A worldwide response revolving around the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Syrian refugees is needed, not just an EU-centric response.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 20th, 2015.

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