Nina S. Illinois

Syrian Refugee Crisis: Time for The U.S. to Step Up

The mere number of refugees the United States has accepted is inadequate for the millions of Syrian refugees, worldwide, deprived of critical resources for survival.

Dear Future President,

Since the outbreak of the Syrian Civil War five years ago, the world’s worst humanitarian crisis known to modern history has been unleashed. More than 4.5 million Syrians have fled the scene of their war-torn country in search of refuge in neighboring countries. Out of this horrific number, nearly half are children. But despite the news of these devastating occurrences, the United States has yet to do their part. Since the beginning of conflict in 2011, the United States has resettled a mere 1,500 Syrian refugees; this amounts to less than 0.03% of the entire population of these victims of war. The U.S. needs to take a stand in the midst of this catastrophe and provide for greater numbers of Syrian refugees.

Imagine the life of a child during such catastrophic happenings. Syrian children are tormented by the brutality of losing parents, loved ones and access to education. According to UNICEF, 8.4 million Syrian children are in need of humanitarian aid, while 2.6 million are no longer enrolled in proper schooling. Ultimately, Syrian children are being deprived of proper nutrition, education, and are more susceptible to diseases and exploitation. Wynn Flaten, director of World Vision’s Syria Crisis Regional Response, states, “It’s heartbreaking. These children have come from one of the world’s most dangerous places. Children need so much support to be able to recover from that, but the odds are against them. Children need safe shelter, but that is only the beginning. They need special protection. They need to get into schools.” Therefore, the United States needs to acknowledge the extremity of this issue and strive to provide these children with a chance of pursuing a brighter future.

Aside from the horrifying conditions facing the people of Syria, the increasing chaos of the crisis is beginning to take its toll on the economies of neighboring countries, primarily in Jordan and Lebanon. In 2013, the Jordanian government incurred a total cost of $81.4 million enrolling 78,531 Syrian children in public schools. In addition, the funding needed to enroll Syrian students and to maintain the infrastructure for local students reached $257 million in 2015, nearly 35 percent of the entire country’s budget. The Humanitarian Practice Network reports “Although neither country is a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention, Jordan and Lebanon host the largest populations of Syrian refugees: around 550,000 and 800,000 respectively...International funding for the crisis is low in relation to the level of need, and host states have limited resources to fund a response.” Given that these current host countries are struggling to maintain an economy suitable to provide for substantial numbers of Syrian refugees, it is crucial U.S. government step up and relieve these current host countries of their burden.

Although considerable efforts are being made around the world to resettle a majority of Syrian refugees, even those who manage to escape the border of Syria still face steep challenges — resources are strained, services are minimal and much of the route into western Europe has been closed. According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), more than 3,770 migrants were reported to have died trying to cross the Mediterranean in 2015. Additionally, MercyCorps claims,“The risks on the journey to the border can be as high as staying: Families walk for miles through the night to avoid being shot at by snipers or being caught by warring parties who will kidnap young men to fight for their cause.” In other words, the safety and survival rate of these thousand of refugees is only going to decrease if our country refrains from taking action.

A land known for freedom and opportunity, it's crucial that our nation own up to this title. The time has come for the United States to step up and secure laws legalizing the admittance of larger numbers of Syrian civilians who have nowhere else to go.


Nina S