Yuzhu Wang, Staff Writer
Edited by Julia Stanski
Over the last four years, four million Syrian refugees have poured into neighboring countries, pushing powerful nations onto the verge of poverty. Antonio Guterres, high commissioner of the refugees, has pleaded with world leaders of the United Nations Assembly to take their plight more seriously.
This doesn’t affect only faraway countries. In tracking the development of this severe case, Guterres remarked that refugees have come to rich countries, expanding the crisis from nations such as Turkey and Jordan to Europe.
The rapidly increasing number of migrants coming to Europe, combined with the fear of attacks by ISIS on the borders of Islamic states like Turkey and Pakistan, has stirred new urgency among Western leaders to address the war and see an end to it.
“I have personally the impression we are waking up to this now because this refugee problem is more visible today to Western eyes,” says Federica Mogherini, the European Union foreign minister. Over 500,000 refugees have crossed the Mediterranean Sea to reach the continent this year alone, according to the International Organization of Migration.
Last Wednesday, Ban Ki-moon (Secretary-General of the United Nations) held a session on the sidelines of the United Nations general assembly on tackling the refugee crisis. He has called for countries to significantly boost the number of refugees they accept. Besides fleeing the war, individuals are also trying to escape areas ravaged by climate change. Severe droughts and heat waves are another factor in Syria’s current instability, and in the civil war that has killed hundreds of thousands of people.
The impact has been felt on both sides of the Atlantic. Last week the European Union forced a plan, over the objections of nations such as Hungary and Sweden, to distribute 120,000 asylum seekers among states. The United States would increase the number of refugees it accepts each year to 100,000. Canadian immigration minister Chris Alexander had stated that Canada will resettle 10,000 more refugees in response to the United Nations Refugee Agency’s global appeal. However, the topic remains controversial as our economy is currently in a recession, leaving oil prices unstable.
Over 4 million total people are involved in the Syrian refugee crisis, with a balanced percentage of both male and female refugees. Most registered Syrian refugees are under the age of 11, or between the ages of 18-57, with lower percentages of teenagers. The number of individuals displaced around the world is at its highest point since World War II.
Our thoughts and prayers go to Aylan Kurdi and his family, one case that has risen above other to give a face to this crisis. The 3-year-old boy’s body was washed ashore on September 2 after he drowned off the Turkish coast. The family was making a final, desperate attempt to flee to relatives in Canada even though their asylum application had reportedly been rejected. Speaking to the Canadian press on September 30, the family was reported upon the child’s death as wanting to return to their Kurdish home. However, the town was bombarded during heavy fighting this year between Islamic States and Kurdish fighters.
This complex issue is still surrounded by questions of all kinds: political, economic and moral. What is your stance?