KU Conversations 9- Syrian Refugee Crisis

By: Courtney Aaron

Good morning and welcome to KU Conversations 9. Today we will be delving into the Syrian refugee crisis. As a result of the Syrian Civil War, many citizens from Syria have fled their country by any means possible, creating what you’ve probably heard as the refugee crisis. You may have also noticed that this issue has also consistently been mentioned in the media in addition to the Syrian Civil War and multiple political related topics (like the elections). We’ve found a short video from factcheck.org explaining whether or not the major media accusations about the handling Syrian refugees and the Syrian refugees themselves were in fact true or false. For example, the real number of refugees the Obama administration plans to take in is not nearly as much as a lot of people are assuming.

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Syrian refugee camp on the Turkish border for displaced people of the Syrian Civil War. Photo by: Henry Ridgwell from Voice of America News

The refugee crisis is an increasingly complicated and difficult issue. It’s not just about escaping a country and finding somewhere else to live. There are so many important aspects involved to think about including:  refugees initial escape from the country, finding a willing country to escape to, gaining access to that country (legally or illegally), locating a refugee camp or safe place to stay in, getting the necessary resources needed to survive, and many other important ideas to consider. These processes also require the involvement of many people and groups including the refugees themselves, the governments and citizens of the countries they are fleeing to, and the humanitarian organizations (and/or organizations and group who do similar work) that are assisting refugees. Each level of this process has its own difficulties and struggles. For starters escaping Syria and finding somewhere else to go is a harrowing experience that is both deadly and heartbreaking all at once, no matter how far or short of a distance the refugees need to travel. Some refugee camps are just outside the border of Syria, like the camp Za’atari. We have a photo essay from Academic Search Complete detailing the life within Za’atari and how refugees live within the camp. We also have another photo essay from Time detailing a longer journey of Syrian refugees (as well as Afghani refugees and other migrants) into Europe. This article focuses on the journey itself and important statistics describing how many refugees and migrants risk everything during their travels.

There is also the concern for risk of diseases and illnesses while traveling with very few medical resources and care. We have an article by PLoS Pathogens discussing the more common types of illnesses and diseases that spread among refugees, as well as the risk factors involved with susceptibility. Even the citizens still within Syria are at high risk of these diseases and illnesses due to the civil war’s effects on Syria’s immunization programs and health care access.  In addition to travel issues and illnesses, there’s also the problem of receiving aid for when the refugees finally find refuge within another country. There needs to be plans on how to acquire health care, food, alternative housing, and many other aspects needed for living. We have an article from Public Health Reviews detailing a few of the issues Europe is facing in terms of planning and response to the increase of refugees.

You may be wondering if there is some kind of plan to settle refugees and manage all the things they would require after they’re settled. There are multiple plans made by both the governments of the countries and also the UN and other similar organizations. It is important to remember that there is a difference between refugees and immigrants. This CNN article details and provides examples about how the process of refugees being handled by a country are different than how immigrants are handled.  Here is an article detailing the U.S.’s plan for refugees entering the country. It discusses the process on how to admit refugees into the country including what the Department of State is going to do to coordinate and manage the U.S. Refugees Admissions Program. There is also information on how many refugees the U.S is planning to accept (10,000 during the fiscal year of 2016), and how Homeland Security will be involved with the process. One of the major factors of these plans people seem to worry about are the screening plans. The refugee screening process goes through multiple organizations and departments including the FBI, the Consular Lookout and Support System, and the National Counterterrorism Center.

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UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNCHR) Antonio Guterres briefing international media in Geneva. Photo by: Eric Bridiers

There is also a plan for refugee resettlement and placement. We also did find a plan that involves governments, UN agencies, multiple non-governmental organizations, and over 200 humanitarian/development agencies called the Regional Refugees and Resilience Plan 2015-2016.

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Administrator of the UN at the Ratana celebrations in 2008. Photo by: Sugnaguy

This plan was created to help coordinate multiple plans and ideas for humanitarian needs, refugee protection, and long-term socio-economic impacts of the Syrian refugee crisis on other countries. This plan also includes extensive statistics on important information like how many refugees are in which countries, funding requirements of each country, agency requirements of each country, and many others. It is both a plan and an extensive progress report. The UNCHR (Office of the high Commissioner for refugees) and the WRC (Women’s Refugee Commission) created and manage the GRYC (Global Refugee Youth Consultations). The GRYC was created from 56 sub-national and national consultations in 22 countries about youth refugees. It is essentially a collection of findings about what are the major struggles refugee’s youths face, explains why it is important to consult with refugee youths, and core actions to take to help refugee youths.

Do you think these plans will be helpful for refugees? What else can countries and organizations do to help refugees? Feel free to discuss your thoughts and ideas in the comments section below or on our Facebook post!

 

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