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United Nations High Commission for Refugees

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees reports that about 11 million Syrian refugees have left their country since the civil war began in 2011. In addition, there are already millions of Syrians in need of humanitarian assistance. The majority of Syrian refugees have fled to neighboring countries, while others remain in Syria. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 4.8 million Syrians have fled to countries such as Iraq, Egypt, Turkey, Jordan, and Lebanon. According to the same figures, 6.6 million more people are internally displaced within Syria. Others have applied for asylum in European countries such as Germany and Sweden.
Summary of the video by Dr. Karen Culcasi
The paper examines a video lecture on the Syrian refugee crisis given by Dr. Karen Culcasi. Karen Culcasi is a West Virginia University professor. In the video, she talks about the Syrian Refugee crisis and Syrian women refugees in Jordan. Dr Karen Culcasi is a distinguished geographical scientist who has done an extensive amount of fieldwork and research in the Middle East region. Dr Culcasi reveals details of the interview she held with a Syrian woman refugee given a pseudonym Fatima. Fatima is a 19-year-old lady who escaped her home country of Syria because of the civil war. She narrates what the experience was like escaping Syria into Jordan. Upon arrival in Jordan, Fatima with her family move to a refugee camp called Zaachar. Before arriving at the refugee camp, Fatima and her family had spend some time in a Jordan urban centre as Illegal Immigrants. However, the high cost of living and the fact that her family lacked a constant stream of income, forced them to move to a refugee camp. While in the Refugee camp Fatima gives birth to her son. Her husband decides to leave Syria for the United Arab Emirates to find a job that would help take care of his young family. The fact that she had a baby made live so challenging for her. She explains how it was difficult getting food and water. In the camps, women had to walk for long distances to wash their bodies and get water for drinking. It was also difficulty getting treatment when someone fell ill. Fatima also talks about the huge mice problems the Syrian refugees experienced in the camps. She and many other refugees in the camp lost the opportunity to access and continue with education. For Fatima's case, she had aspirations of getting into college and furthering her education a thing that was not possible in the refugee camps. Fatima’s live as a refugee also changes her social relations with her family. She is forced leave her baby with her father-in-law to work as a teacher in a refugee school a fact that is normally not acceptable in Islamic culture.

A civil war began in Syria in the year 2011 after an initial uprising against the authoritarian regime of President Bashar al-Assad. The uprising was part of the larger Arab Spring that happened in nations like Egypt and Tunisia. There is an initial assumption among observers that President Assad's regime would give in to pressure just like other regimes in nations like Egypt and Tunisia but to their surprise, this never happened. Instead, President Assad announced that he was going to retaliate. This led to a full-scale war that has, in turn, resulted in one of the biggest humanitarian and refugee crisis in the world. The war was between the Syrian authoritative regime and the free Syrian army. The Syrian civil army split into many factions in the period that followed making it difficult to understand who is against whom in the war. More than 400, 000 people have died a result of the war. This number includes both civilians and the military. Millions of others have been displaced from their homes while others have fled to neighboring nations. The refugee and the humanitarian crisis is a product of the ongoing war. There are about 13.5 million refugees. However, these are only numbers that have officially been documented by UNHCR. There are fears that the statistics could be more.

The Syrian refugee crisis is not restricted to Syria instead it is a regional problem that spread to other nations like Turkey, Egypt and Lebanon. Turkey alone hosts close to 2 million Syrian refugees. More refugees are trying to escape to Europe, and some have died while on that journey. There are fears within the European Union that a large intake of refugees could lead to some cultural shifts. These fears have also spread to the US and it was manifested when President Trump signed an executive order banning travels from some Arab nations. Jordan is among the nations that have taken in a large number of Syrian refugees alongside Turkey. It hosts about 657, 000 refugees and it also has one of the largest refugee camps in the world. The refugee camp is called Zaatari and hosts close to 80,000 refugees. The number has dropped dramatically because of the deplorable conditions within the camp which force some refugees to leave. Syrian refugees can only afford to leave outside the camps through a sponsorship system where a Jordan family agrees to give accommodation and other basics.

Summary of article in New York Times

Since the outbreak of the civil in Syria more than 400, 000 people have been killed in Syria while millions of others have been rendered homeless. This has created the largest humanitarian and refugee crisis since the World War II. While millions of refugees are displaced internally, millions of others have fled to countries like Turkey, Jordan, Iraq, Egypt and Lebanon. These nations combined are hosting close to 5 million refugees from Syria. Refugees continue to live lives of low dignity, especially in nations like Jordan and Lebanon (Rula).They live in crowded makeshift tents with limited access to water, food, medicine and other basic supplies. Most of the refugees are at the mercy of nongovernmental organizations which are strained for resources because of a large number of refugees (Rula). Refugee wellbeing is particularly deplorable in Lebanon. Perhaps the Jordan government does not want the Syrian refugees to become permanent residents in Lebanon as it happened with the Palestinian refugees. There is also a huge resentment towards the refugees from the local population. Political leaders in Jordan have promised to repatriate the refugees back to Syria once the civil comes to an end. Many of Syrian kids have been orphaned like it is the case for a 12-year-old girl named Nour and her sister Aya. They have stopped school because of the war and have been forced into child labor to support themselves (Rula).

Jordan has shown a much more positive attitude towards refugees than Lebanon. It hosts second biggest refugee camps in the world called Zaatari. The camp is managed by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees and the Jordan Interior ministry. It is financed by a group of international humanitarian organizations. Thousands of Syrian refugees are still trapped in a no-man’s area of Jordan Syrian border.

Syrian refugees have been left vulnerable to airstrikes in this particular area. Matters have been made worse by President Trump's administration threats to cut funding for international humanitarian organizations helping to solve the Syrian humanitarian and refugee crisis. A nation like Turkey has taken the leadership mantle in solving the problem. The country has taken in more than 3 million Syrian refugees. This is notwithstanding the fact that Turkey has 80 million native inhabitants. The Turkish city of Gaziantep alone accommodates 600,000 Syrian refugees

As this happens, United States has failed to play its role as the global leaders. Instead of leading as the example it is busy issuing threats. Turkey also extends humane conditions to refugees. Refugees are free to work, go to school and access health care services. The Turkish government has also committed to putting mechanisms in place to ensure that some of the refugees are awarded citizenship. Turkey is not only welcoming the refugees. It has also played a major role towards ensuring that the war in Syria comes to an end. Already the Turkish army has liberated the Syrian town of Jarabulus which was under the control of the Islamic State. Turkey has improved its status in the global standing by developing a friendlier attitude towards refugees. The war in Syria is almost coming to an end. Close to 600, 000 refugees have already gone back home. The Assad regime remains the biggest threat to return to peace. The Assad regime continues to receive support from Russia and Iran as it unleashes terror on civilians (David)

Reflection

The Syrian humanitarian and refugee crisis has caused untold suffering to innocent civilians. Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed in the war while millions remain homeless living in Syria while others have fled to neighboring nations. Refugees have had to endure deplorable condition in makeshift camps. Access to food, water, medicine and other necessities is limited at best in these camps. Children on the other have been orphaned, stopped school and forced to engage in child labor to meet their daily needs. Global leaders like the United States have shied away from confronting the situation while nations like Turkey have played a major role in addressing the crisis. The refugee and the humanitarian situation involving Syrian refugees have been worsened by the regime of President Bashar al-Assad through the support of nations like Iran and Russia. President Assad's regime has unleashed terror on civilians using weapons like sarin gas threatens to increase the number of refugees even further. While most of the refugees from Syria are spread in nations like Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt and Iraq, some have sought asylum in European nations like Sweden and Germany. This makes this a regional and international crisis rather than a Syrian problem. The problem requires the attention of the international community if there are hopes of it getting solved.

Works Cited

David, Lesch. “Iran Is Taking Over Syria. Can Anyone Stop It?” (2017). Retrieved Nov. 30, 2017, from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/29/opinion/iran-syria.html

Rula, Jebreal. “How to Treat Refugees with Dignity: A Lesson From Turkey.” (2017). The New York Times. Retrieved Nov. 30, 2017, from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/27/opinion/turkey-syrian-refugees.html

September 21, 2021

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