When will Syria’s beleaguered refugees find peace?
Often times I wonder what foreign governments expect of the Syrian people
It’s been four years since the Syrian crisis erupted. ISIS, insurgency, and civil war aside, what the world must recognise is that it cannot change where the Syrians have been, but it can change where they’re going. Right now, they’re going nowhere.
A total of 3.5 million refugees have poured out of Syria, mostly into the neighbouring countries, while some have attempted to rebuild their lives in Europe. Yet the support offered is cardboard: cardboard tents that get wet in the cold winters, cardboard education that allows ink to fade, and cardboard clothing. Cardboard: a temporary fix to a permanent problem.
In the grand scheme of things, 3.3 million is 15 percent of the total Syrian population, and makes Syrian refugees the second largest refugee population in the world, after Palestinians.
Rebuilding their lives
When my mother’s family fled Haifa during the Palestinian diaspora, they were able to rebuild their lives, and eventually landed in Syria where they managed to lead a semi-normal life, contribute to the economy. My grandfather raised a family of doctors and university professors who went on to heal lives and teach generations.
Yet whether refugees are Palestinian or Syrian, they aren’t seeking another country’s citizenship or universal access to their healthcare, education, and welfare systemsYara al-Wazir
The world dealt well with the Palestinian refugees, and continues to deal with the Palestinian situation well. Yet whether refugees are Palestinian or Syrian, they aren’t seeking another country’s citizenship or universal access to their healthcare, education, and welfare systems. They’re seeking shelter, a job, and an opportunity to rebuild their lives. If anything, in my experience, refugees tend to be the most patriotic people I have met.
Syria’s economy is in ruins – over $202 billion has been lost over the past three years, according to a report by the UNDP.
European governments are busy planning, (or debating), bailing out economies of the EU while Syria is failing. Before Syria’s economy is resuscitated, Syria’s people need to be resuscitated.
Syrian people have a reputation for being excellent businessmen and women, and that’s exactly what they need: integration into the economies in which they are seeking refuge to allow them to grow and develop once again.
Crossing the border
Often times I wonder what foreign governments expect of the Syrian people. Stuck between a rock and a hard place, stuck between rubble and dust with air strikes from every angle, what can Syrians do to stay alive? Either carry a gun and fight for whichever side is more likely to kill them if they don’t pledge allegiance, or flee.
Those who fight risk an increased rate of air strikes, those who flee risk drowning in the Mediterranean.
Creating laws to combat refugees and diminishing their numbers does not solve the crisis; instead it exacerbates the Syrian crisis, knocking further in to a whirlwind of violence.
The state of the Syrian refugees can be compared to that of a child whose parents are going through a rough divorce: all sides are fighting, and that’s exactly when social services need to step in and save the child before it loses everything, again. Four years is too long for this crisis to still be continuing.
Yara al Wazir is a humanitarian activist. She is the founder of The Green Initiative ME and a developing partner of Sharek Stories. She can be followed and contacted on twitter @YaraWazir