Imagine having to live in a small one-room tent shared by nine other family members. Dust swirls around you and dirt is caked between the creases of your hands and feet. Suffocation circles you as the walls of the tent entrap you, chaining you to this fate. As you painfully draw in each breath, you choke on the stifling air. Your life is unbearable. Only scraps of food to eat with stale bread and a sip of water on the best of days. Poor hygiene surrounds you. The air reeks of death and the sound of the coughing of the ill is carried on the wind. No electricity. And the weather is one of your nightmares: a boiling cauldron during the day and an arctic tundra at night. There is no way of escape. This is your life.
Unfortunately, our imagination carries us into a sickening reality. This situation that you and I are imagining in our heads right now is the life of more than two-hundred thousand Syrian refugees. The Syrian Refugee Crisis is one of the woes the world is grappling with, attempting to balance between appearing humane and doing what is best for the individual countries. Over the last four years, millions of Syrians have fled the horrors of the civil war to neighboring countries. As these countries saturated, European countries and the United States were obliged to offer assistance. However, many were criticized for being selective, only allowing the educated and productive refugees to enter. The poor, uneducated, and most vulnerable were boxed in tents at the borders with limited resources way below the subsistence level. It is no wonder that many of them escape these unthinkable conditions straight into the hands of ISIS fighters where they will have a better shot at survival. The media has limited coverage of the daily tragedies of the refugees, allowing several countries, such as UAE, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Denmark, Czech Republic, and Romania, to get away with turning their backs on the millions of Syrians who endure the nightmares of homelessness all meanwhile facing the horrors of having their own country ripped away from them. It is shameful we cannot relate simply because we, the fortunate, happen to be in stable, developed countries.
The Syrian refugee crisis can be solved if we treat it as a human crisis, not just as a political dilemma. I know that I cannot carry the world’s problems on my back because one back isn’t strong enough. But if we all unite, we can conquer. I can question and dismiss the thoughts of why the innocent have to suffer, or I can choose to make a difference like the Turkish couple who gave up their wedding reception to serve four thousand Syrian refugees at a refugee camp.
I may not be a Syrian or from a refugee family or someone who endured pain like these people, but I am a human being. When one human dies, all of humanity hurts. Unfortunately though, it has taken more than just one human being to bring us back to our senses. It has taken more than thousands of little children to finally see that there rests a problem in our world. No child should witness a bomb erupt within a mile radius from his or her home. No mother should witness her child die in her arms from malnutrition, helpless, unable to save him or her. No wife should witness her husband being killed trying to protect the family. None of this should happen, yet these atrocities occur daily. We cannot just sit and hope for a solution to spring from the ground. We cannot continue to see past the malnourishment, homelessness, and death of innocent people. The solution to the Syrian refugee crisis is here. It welcomes us all with open arms. Organizations like the UNHCR, Save the Children, and UNICEF are all here, waiting for us to reach out and help. But the growing concern to the underlying problem is our ignorance. We fail to put aside our differences and let these distinctions create a chasm between us. But race, ethnicity, religion and language should not hold us back from doing the right thing. At the end we are all one. One tribe, united under one roof.
Each and every one of us commits a crime against humanity when we turn our backs from the countless stories we hear, and fail to recognize the complete and utter wrongness of it all. My prayers go out to the victims of crimes against humanity.
Today is World Refugee Day, and I dedicate this article not only to the Syrian refugees, but also to every refugee out there that endures the pain the world continues to overlook.