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BEG: Recent global anti-refugee backlash cannot be ignored

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The Syrian Civil War in 2011 started as an uprising against the president, Bashar Al-Assad. Since then, Syria has been shattered with the destruction of its cities and its civilians. Their standard of living has gone completely to shreds, and the country is now recognized as having the largest refugee and displacement crisis of modern times. Thousands upon thousands of Syrians died, over 5 million fled the country and over 6 million civilians are displaced within Syria.

The people of the country are in dire need of the basic necessities, like food, water and basic security, to sustain their lives. The children get bombed in their sleep, and their schools become occupied by militant forces.

The problem is that some countries have completely denied access for refugees, like Israel, and some have a problem allowing even a very small percentage, like the United States. Fortunately, countries like Turkey, Sweden and Germany have allowed full access to those in serious need of help. The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, has established an open-door policy that recognizes that these civilians are barely holding onto life.

Although there are some countries that have accepted and welcomed Syrian refugees, the people are at risk of being pushed back to their war-torn countries. Aid agencies warn Syrians about the danger of returning to Syria because of severe ongoing violence. These humanitarian organizations are calling the push-back a “global anti-refugee backlash.” Secretary-General of the Norwegian Refugee Council Jan Egeland explained how the Syrian people wish they could return back to that which they call home but that “their return must be informed, voluntary, safe, assisted and protected. Now, return would neither be safe nor voluntary for the vast majority who fled the war and the violence.”

The Syrians are not gaining access to working permits and are still dying from the horrible conditions they are forced into by the countries hosting Syrian refugees. Even if they are being deported, there is no real opportunity for them to succeed no matter where they are pushed. It is a complete lose-lose situation, but the factors at risk are their own lives.

Some European countries and the United States government are putting countless lives at risk and truly hurting such a large group of people by not opening their borders and obliging the little they did let in to leave.

“(They) can be doing so much more to help the refugee-hosting countries in the Middle East,” Karl Schembri, a Maltese writer and humanitarian, said.

For every civilian returning to Syria between 2016 and 2017, there have been three more newly displaced because of the harsh and terrible violence. Around 2.4 million people in Syria, which is more than 8,000 everyday, ran and escaped their country in first nine months of 2017. The United Nations estimates another 1.5 million civilians will be forced to move in 2018.

The sheer intensity of these numbers should scare people and cause them to consider the millions of innocent people living in fear of something they cannot control. The governments of countries all around the world have a global and humanitarian responsibility to help these Syrians in need. They are denied the basic human rights that we are privileged to have without question and second thought.

Samantha Power, the United States ambassador to the United Nations, attacked Bashar Al-Assad and his allies in the UN Security Council Emergency Briefing on Syria when she said, “Are you truly incapable of shame? Is there literally nothing that can shame you?”

We can no longer ignore this global issue and just force these people to go back to a place that decimated their homes and took their fathers, mothers and children away from them. These countries are holding guns to the innocent Syrian refugees’ heads, and they have the power to either pull the trigger or put the weapon down.

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