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Aid for Refugees

September 27, 2015

The Civil War in Syria, along with the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as the uprisings associated with the Arab Spring in years gone by, have resulted in long-lasting turmoil and displacement of many people in nations throughout the Middle East and Northern Africa. People from many nations, but perhaps in largest numbers from Syria, Libya and other nations where ISIS has gained a foothold, have been increasingly seeking refuge abroad from intolerable living conditions in their native countries.

Naturally, the countries affected earliest by the onslaught of refugees have been those bordering the nations where conflict exists. In other cases, boats have been used to attempt escape to European nations on the Mediterranean. Many of the adjacent countries have insufficient resources to deal with the numbers of refugees involved, prompting them to seek solace further from home.  Other countries more distant from the centers of conflict have been hesitant to accept large numbers of them – despite the fact that they may be better able to serve the needs of larger numbers of people.

Responsibility for dealing with refugees in these numbers should be a worldwide concern. Shifting resources from wealthier nations to those less well off can and does alleviate some of the pressure. Assessing blame for the causes of the strife and desperation of the innocent men, women and children displaced by the conflicts is also appropriate in determining how to deal with the aftermath. Humanitarian concerns of providing food, shelter and taking care of health needs of refugees obviously come first, but longer term solutions involving more permanent settlement of individuals and families in new homes with integrated places in new communities/nations need to be addressed as well.

Often, those countries bearing the most responsibility for causing the societal disruptions resulting in the creation of large numbers of refugees are those most hesitant to accept responsibility for rectifying the damage they have caused. None of these wars (declared or otherwise) has occurred in a vacuum. Arms and financing have been provided by the United States, Russia, the European Union, NATO and many of the neighboring countries not directly involved in the conflicts (most notably Turkey, which has seen many of the refugees spilling over from Syria, some of the wealthy oil producing Arab Persian Gulf states and Iran).

Military equipment and personnel directly involved in the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan were provided mostly by the United States and a few NATO allies. The advent and military successes of ISIS has complicated matters further (most lay much of the blame for this on missteps by the US in its invasion and occupation of Iraq), particularly in Syria and Iraq, but also in Libya and Afghanistan. The Saudi involvement in Yemen as well has further escalated the turmoil in that part of the Gulf. Israeli involvement in the negotiations with Iran concerning their nuclear ambitions has further increased tensions.

As the political machinations on all sides have continued, much of the relief work has fallen to the non-governmental aid organizations which always become involved in the humanitarian work that does occur whenever military conflicts and social upheaval decimate a region. This situation has been ongoing for way too long. The UN, along with the individual states most directly involved on all sides of the existing situations, must get serious about dealing with the causes of the conflicts and actually solving some of them with a minimum of further human bloodshed.

The negotiations which resulted in the recently concluded agreement between the permanent five UN Security Council members plus Germany (P5+1) and Iran may be seen as an attempt to de-escalate tensions to a certain extent in the region, at least temporarily. Negotiations involving the Russians and Syria averted an escalation of military intervention there when the issue of chemical weapons use was defused diplomatically. More nations must begin a serious process of negotiation there, as well as dealing with the situations in Libya and Yemen to avoid further military escalation in the region as a whole and to stop the creation of an even deeper humanitarian crisis involving even more refugees.

Europe has been trying to respond to the mass influx of refugees from Syria and other Moslem nations. Germany has increased its contributions and allowance for resettlement of refugees within its borders significantly recently. The UK and others, including the US, have somewhat reluctantly seemed inclined to follow suit and allow for more refugees to come to their countries as well. However, little has been done in the past couple of years to solve the main conflicts which are creating the most refugees -  namely ISIS and the governments of the countries that ISIS is controlling significant territories within.

The US ability to use air power, along with the training and arming of new Syrian and Iraqi military groups to fight ISIS, is apparently not achieving desired results in an acceptable timeframe. Dealing with all the countries which have involved themselves in the conflict diplomatically to come up with a mutually beneficial outcome that ends the senseless killing still isn’t happening. Having an enemy (ISIS) in common has not been enough to bring the US, Russia, Iran or the governments of the countries where the battle rages together at the negotiating table. The US continues to insist on regime change in Syria (look how well that’s worked out in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Egypt). Russia and Iran continue to pursue their aims opposing ISIS without yielding to the US and its Arab allies with regard to Syria or Yemen.

The only people gaining anything from the turmoil currently embroiling the Middle East are those participating in it the least while profiting handsomely by selling the instruments of mass destruction. Countries on all sides of the conflicts continue pumping money and weapons into the region at an alarming rate. The people paying the largest price, however, remain the average civilian populations of the region. They are not at fault for the extreme disregard of the governments fomenting the destruction for the inhumanity their policies produce. Human beings deserve better than to be treated as mere pawns in a global chess match being orchestrated by masters who are by far their moral inferiors. Greed and the desire to control the lives of others are not the foundations of a good and just society.

Excusing unwillingness to help the innocent victims of military violence and wanton destruction by claiming that it will increase the infiltration of our decent society by terrorist moles is unacceptable. The terrorists who brought down the twin towers on 9/11/01 were not refugees. Refusing to help those in need due to our military exploits does not make us safer in any respect. It merely adds to the perception of those whose lands we destroy that we are heartless monsters deserving of like treatment at their hands should the opportunity present itself.

The world needs to end this mass violence through diplomacy. Non-violent solutions can and must be found. Solutions should be sought through reason which do not cause the deaths and impoverishment of more people than are ever liberated by the constant quest for military or economic superiority. We can accomplish far more, with far more humanity, through cooperation than we ever could through cutthroat competition to gain for ourselves by denying resources to others. We must stop creating new refugees and repair the damage done which created the ones who already exist.

Further Suggested Readings:

Pope Francis, a Voice of Humanity in the Refugee Crisis

U.N. Official: ‘Syrian Conflict Will Displace Another Million People’

Why Europe’s refugee crisis reached a tipping point – Yahoo News

Ben Carson: Taking in Syrian refugees is just ‘trying to be politically correct’

Ask President Obama to Increase US Support to Syrian Refugees

Germany to ‘reintroduce border controls’ with Austria as Munich struggles with refugee arrivals

There’s Nothing Collateral About a Toddler Washed Ashore

The migrant crisis explained

Q&A: Can a Divided Europe Handle the Refugee Crisis?

What America Owes the Refugees Pouring Into Europe

Where Is the Outcry Over Children Killed by U.S.-Led Forces?

Salma’s Story: One Family’s Journey From Syria to Germany

Migrant vs. refugee: what the terms mean, and why they matter

E.J. Dionne Jr.: Americans and the Needs of Strangers – Truthdig

U.S. To Increase Number of Refugees Admitted To 100,000 in 2017

Why Have 4 Million People Fled Syria? A Primer On This Complex War

Syrian Refugee Crisis: The View From Up Close (w/ Eric Maddox)

Syrian Refugee Crisis- Is it Deja Vu All Over Again?

With Putin and Obama Set To Meet, Can Dent Be Made in Syrian Suffering?

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  1. Thanks for this. It seems like a good overview of a topic I don’t know nearly enough about.


  2. A really good article!


  3. Yes, diplomacy sure solves lots of problems; however, the damage is so deep and widespread, that I can’t see how it can change. It’s like the world is out of control; at least in that region.


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