Escaping A Warzone: The Syrian Refugee Crisis And Why You Should Care

Syria TITLE

Syria is in a crisis, and it’s not getting any better for anyone. Barker examines what’s going on, what we’re doing to help and how we measure against other countries.

Demonstrations broke out around the world this week after Trump imposed a ban on people travelling to the US from seven largely Islamic countries, which is weird seeing as not one immigrant from these countries have killed Americans in terrorist attacks in the US.

C3dMJkSUcAA01uM

Syria has been stuck in a civil war for the past six years and it doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. The rebels don’t like Assad (the President of Syria, who violently repressed a revolt in 2011 that kicked off the civil war), Assad doesn’t like the rebels (Free Syrian Army, Southern Front), the UK doesn’t like Assad and thinks he should face war crimes, the Russians don’t like ISIS (obviously) so they’re backing Assad and Turkey don’t really like Assad so they’re backing the Islamic Front (not to be confused with Islamic State). Very confusing I know.

But aside from all of that are the real victims of this war: the innocent people of Syria.

I’ve heard a lot about the refugee crisis recently. You just have to trawl through comments on articles relating to Syria, to see what people are thinking:

‘Let them fight their own wars.’

‘We’re already full up why should we help these people?’

‘Why don’t they get off in the first county they come to?’

These are three common phrases passed around by commentators when talking about the crisis. It seems a lot of people believe the first thing they read on the front page of The Sun and take it as gospel, unfortunately. So this article is dedicated to the REAL facts and figures of the Syrian refugee crisis, what we’re doing to help and how we compare to other countries.

Source: NBC

Source: NBC

93% of Syrian refugees in urban areas in Jordan are living below the poverty line, as well as 70% of Syrian refugees in Lebanon, 65% in Egypt and 37% in Iraq.

There are an estimated 117,234 refugees living in the UK, a number given by the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees), which makes up 0.18% of our population. Not even a quarter of a percent, and that’s refugees in general. If we’re talking specifically refugees from the Syrian crisis we have taken in a measly 5,000 in 5 years.  Compare that to the number of refugees other countries have taken in and you’ll see we’re really not doing enough to help.

Let’s do some compare and contrast on these 5,000 for a minute.

In the Middle East, the majority of Syria’s neighbours have taken in vast amounts of refugees. Turkey has taken in 2.7 million Syrian refugees, more than any country in the world. Lebanon, a country 23 times smaller than the UK has taken in roughly 1 million refugees which amounts to almost a quarter of their entire population. Jordan hosts approximately 655,500 refugees which is around 10% of their population. Iraq whilst already housing 3.1 million IDP’s (Internally Displaced Person) took on another 228,900 Syrian refugees. Egypt hosts around 300,000 refugees although the official documented figure is around 115,000 as most aren’t registered. The same can be said about all of the figures above, these figures given are of documented refugees and the actual number may be a lot higher.

[rife-guide-events]

Russia started bombing Syria in September 2015, by August 2016 they had allegedly killed 2549 civilians including 647 children and 374 women. To make matters worse, they have bombed schools and hospitals killing doctors and nurses tending to injured men, women and children. Sources such as SN4HR (Syrian Network For Human Rights) report that between March 2011 and November 2016 Russian forces have killed more civilians than ISIS. Worst of all Russia has refused to take in any refugees. They’re turning away the people whose lives they’ve destroyed and families they’ve killed; the lack of humanity is sickening.

So Why Are We Against Taking People In Who Are Fleeing A War-Torn Country?

Source: Mediatel

Source: Mediatel

In my opinion, the majority of the fault lies with newspapers and media stations quoting false statistics and spouting anti-refugee propaganda. Newspapers like the Daily Mail, Daily Express and The Sun have been on the frontline of degrading headlines written to put a bad name on refugees and asylum seekers. Headlines such as ‘We Must Stop The Migrant Invasion’ really don’t help the situation, what sort of messed up country refers to people fleeing a war zone as an ‘invasion’ anyway? I didn’t see anyone complaining when our grandparents were sent to Australia, South Africa, New Zealand and Canada to escape the atrocities of the Second World War. People saying, ‘they should fight their own battles’ are ridiculous too. How are people in a desolated country with maybe a couple of AK-47’s supposed to defend themselves against Tornado GR4 fight jets that cost 21 million pounds to build and £210,000 to run for a six-hour mission, not to mention the Paveway bombs they drop which cost £22,000 EACH and the £105,000 Brimstone missiles.

Don’t ever tell me we don’t have enough money for the poor and homeless.

Source: Al Jazeera

Source: Al Jazeera

Why should we help?

Hmmm I dunno, maybe because WE’RE THE ONES BOMBING THEM.

It is 20,000 more people killed than the number of English soldiers lost in WW2, and these people never signed up for it like the soldiers did.

In 2016 alone, 16,913 civilians were killed in Syria, that included 1,984 children. Overall during the entirety of the war since it started in 2011, multiple figures and sources put civilian casualties at around 400,000. That is an awful figure. It is 20,000 more people killed than the number of English soldiers lost in WW2, and these people never signed up for it like the soldiers did. Isn’t it just human to help those fleeing a war zone anyway? Especially one that we helped create?

Civilians inside Aleppo were live tweeting as their friends and family were murdered and we still did nothing, calls for a pause in fighting to evacuate civilians were ignored by Syrian and Russian forces who will continue bombing until the rebels ‘surrender or die’. Pro-government forces were also reported to have opened fire on ambulance carrying wounded civilians as they left the city in convoy. How cold hearted do you have to be to ignore this, I ask the 200,000 people who signed a petition to close our borders and refuse help to those in need. Let us pray our country is never a war zone we must flee from because I wouldn’t be surprised if nobody wanted to let us in. I wouldn’t.

Check out how you can help here

Are you a refugee here in Bristol or know someone that is? Go check out the Refugee Women of Bristol charity.

Support more young people to have their voices heard

Rife is Watershed‘s online magazine created for young people, by young people.

We offer paid internships and publish work by young writers, photographers, illustrators, and filmmakers from all sorts of backgrounds, helping them get into creative careers. Rife has reached over 8,000 young people through our workshops, over 220 young people have made stuff for Rife on topics ranging from mental health to identity to baked beans, and last year, over 200,000 people visited our website.

In these complex and uncertain times hearing from and supporting young people who are advocating for social change and contributing fresh perspectives has never been so important. 

Through supporting Rife you can ensure that this important work continues and that more young people have their voices heard.