The Refugee Crisis: Where Are We Now?

Photo: REUTERS/DARRIN ZAMMIT LUPI/FILES

Photo: REUTERS/DARRIN ZAMMIT LUPI/FILES

Lawrence Dushenski, Contributor

More than four million people have fled Syria in the last four years. To put that in perspective, that is nearly the entire population of the Republic of Ireland. And they have all been displaced in an attempt to flee from the brutal war that has engulfed their home country.

Turkey has taken on almost two million refugees, Lebanon nearly a million, while hundreds of thousands are now pouring into Europe, all desperately trying to escape a war that has fallen largely out of the view of most of western media. Media platforms are saturated with stories about the refugees pouring into Hungary, Germany and many other European nations in recent months, but the public continues to hear little about the root of the problem; the conflict in Syria itself. Few media outlets still send reporters to the conflict zone after more than a hundred have been killed during the crisis. The result is that the images of the conflict have become almost impossible to find.

We are a visual culture, and the picture of the young Syrian boy that drowned while fleeing with his family struck a nerve with so many people for that exact reason. It was the defining image of a crisis that isn’t really talked about. Many argue that the security of the United Kingdom could be at risk if we let an open stream of refugees in, naming the benefits and healthcare systems as particular danger zones. There is little attention paid to the plight of these individuals who are taking part in the largest mass migration that Europe has seen since World War II.

Why has Germany, largely considered the economic powerhouse of Europe, claimed that they can sustain an influx of five hundred thousand refugees per year, while David Cameron says that twenty thousand in the next five years is all that the UK can handle? Is there no moral imperative to aid those in need, those desperately trying to escape Assad’s murderous regime?

This situation is not about to be “solved” anytime soon, and the migrants are not about to stop flowing from North African and Middle Eastern nations. This is the new reality that the situations in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen and so many other war torn nations have led us too. The fighting could only be compartmentalized for so long before it ended up on the west’s doorstep. No one lifted a finger when Assad’s forces were shelling Aleppo, but suddenly the world is concerned about the plight of the Syrian people. We can no longer put it out of sight and out of mind. It is now time to do more to help our fellow men, women and children.
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