By: Kara Haselton
Last fall, Europe began to experience one of the largest migrant crises seen throughout history. Over a million refugees and migrants crossed over into Europe in 2015, which is significantly more than years past. The Independent has reported that over 100,000 people have reached Europe since the start of 2016 alone and more than 410 have died. Over 9 million refugees have fled Syria since the outbreak of the Arab Spring in 2011 and roughly 4 million of those refugees are currently sitting in the horrendous conditions of the refugee camps provided by organizations like the UNHCR that just don’t have the kind of money, supplies, or support needed to provide for this overwhelming tsunami of people. While there are countries that have said they will accept refugees — such as Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Germany, Sweden, France, United Kingdom, Denmark, and Hungary — there are still many more that are rejecting and refusing to provide aid to the innocent and destitute. Many of the countries accepting refugees will only allow a small percentage of the population in, neglecting thousands more not provided for.
Many are concerned that allowing such a huge population of Muslims into European countries will create an unwanted ethnic imbalance and increase the risk of Islamic terrorism. But in reality, according to the informational video produced by the organization Kurzgesagt, “even if the EU alone were to accept all 4 million refugees and 100% of them were Muslims, the percentage of Muslims in the EU would only rise from about 4% to 5%” Others claim that the EU could not handle this massive flow of refugees. However, European countries have spent more time and money pouring into equipment and methods to keep the masses out of their countries, rather than trying to prepare and support their inclusion. If the EU wants and tries to control this crisis, they have the ability, as well as the money, to do so.
Several refugees resort to trusting smugglers to help them cross borders and get from one country to another, resulting in abuse and stolen money. Women have been raped, taken advantage of, and become victims of human trafficking. Despite the adverse conditions, refugees are still trying to flee. Independent reported that, “Their determination in the face of winter storms and increasingly strict European border controls demonstrates how desperate families are to flee the brutal conflicts in Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, where most refugees are arriving from.”
The refugees are still out there, and they are still in need. Simply because their deaths and various struggles are not splattered all across our American news headlines does not mean they are any less in need of support. The picture of the little boy, Alan Kurdi, that was found washed up on Greece’s shore helped people realize that this crisis was a real crisis. But that picture was taken last September. People have slowly grown less aware as this issue becomes an “old topic.” There are more little boys washing up on shore. 340 more little boys. Little girls, too. Teenagers. Women. Men. Families. There are more doctors and teachers and mothers and fathers being torn from their homes, beginning a hopeless journey that could be cut short any time soon, fleeing with little less than the clothes on their backs and memories of a collapsing life. These people have experienced their countries falling apart, their governments turning against them, and their homes and families being slaughtered in front of them. The organizations and volunteers trying to help them have supplies, but not enough. They have willing hands, but not enough. These hopeless people have no place to go; they can no longer live in their homeland and are rejected by those in the countries that could provide refuge.
When given a chance, these refugees, these human beings, could contribute great things to our societies and change perspectives. They are just like you and me. They are professional men and women that were well respected, intelligent, people who built great buildings and contributed influential ideas. They are teenagers that were getting ready to graduate, their life just beginning when they were told, “you can’t stay here anymore.” They are the little kids that were denied their education because their school had been bombed. These are human beings that just happen to be refugees, and we should treat them as such.
Don’t let this be a moment in history when the future looks back on the failure of humanity to provide for and support our fellow human beings during some of their most trying times.