Europe and the Syrian Refugee Crisis

This article originally appeared at OneEurope

Civilians are leaving Syria in thousands every day, leaving everything behind except what they can carry in those frantic moments of flight.

There is no guidebook on how to be a refugee. ‘Asylum Seeking for Dummies’ has not been written and there is no user-friendly, multi-lingual book of rights provided to you when you flee your country to save your life.

For those in Syria, as the stories of chemical warfare emerge for international consideration, the truth is that millions of people are under severe threat every single day. Unwilling to risk their lives for a war they did not make, civilians are leaving Syria in thousands every day, leaving everything behind except what they can carry in those frantic moments of flight.

There are now almost 2 million Syrian refugees who have poured out of the state to neighbouring lands with no certain timetable for return. Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and Iraq are sharing the heavy burden of sheltering them. Given the difficult situation in Egypt and the present lack of stability of its political power, is it wise that over 100,000 Syrians temporarily call it home? Similarly, Iraq remains a country notable for its own civilian asylum seekers gone abroad to find peace and new hope. From one war torn country to another, Syrians are facing destitution, isolation, malnutrition, violence and death in refugee camps built with the best of intentions to provide sanctuary, but sorely lacking in security, support and provisions. Money and time are precious commodities, and right now, the international humanitarian system simply does not have enough of either.

The UNHCR currently operates the largest appeal in history for the Syrian Protection effort. With over $5 billion needed to bolster the support structure, and new details of atrocities in Syria emerging every day, there are questions to be asked as to European responsibility. The United States has pledged over $800 million in aid to Syria, and will permanently resettle 2 000 refugees in America. In Germany, asylum has been granted to 8 000 refugees since 2012 and Sweden has accepted a further 8 000. But when 3 000 asylum seekers, mostly women and children, flood into Kurdistan every day across a long dirt road in the baking heat, why is Europe not doing more?

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