Syrian children being checked by volunteers in Lezvos, Greece. Photo: Neda Kadri

Are We Becoming Indifferent to the Syrian Refugee Crisis as It Continues?

After five long years in the struggle for civility in Syria, the temporary cease-fire was a welcomed sigh of relief…that is until a refugee camp was blown to bits the very next day.
The United States and Russia assured that they would investigate to determine who killed 28 and injured 50 more civilian refugees who have already fled their homes in Syria and were looking for temporary salvation in the Kamouna camp which is located roughly 16 miles from Turkey.

According to the UN,  “if the nationwide ceasefire fails, it will be ‘catastrophic’ and could lead to more than 400,000 more people fleeing to Turkey.”

That apparently fell on deaf ears.  A week later, the Al-Zara camp came under attack.
So just to recap; Syrians are fleeing their homes that they have lived in for generations to save their lives and find an escape–albeit temporary–in the refugee camps.  Then the refugee camp comes under attack by airstrikes. If by chance they are not murdered by their government, or our government, and they are fortunate enough to make it to the Mediterranean Sea, they then board rafts wearing fraudulent life jackets that couldn’t float a fly, in search of refuge in the Greek isles.
The Syrian refugee crisis is arguably one of the most disastrous, shameful humanitarian crisis since the Holocaust, the South African Apartheid, the Rwanda Genocide, and the current Palestinian Apartheid.  And, there is a common denominator  among these humanitarian tragedies: “indifference.”  We are all guilty of it. Perhaps the immensity of such a tragedy makes it almost too difficult to comprehend.  It’s hard for most of us to imagine how human beings can be so cruel to one another. Unfortunately, turning a blind eye does not justify inhumanity. It sounds dramatic- because it is.  Lets learn some fun facts, shall we?
Since the start of the civil war in Syria, 12 million have been displaced. Let that one sink in for a minute–12 million people–that’s the equivalent of the entire state of Illinois or Pennsylvania.  Of those, 2 million are children. Those numbers are before the wave that is about to take place since the latest UN warning.
Just this year alone, 500,000 individuals have fled Syria for Europe, the majority of which have landed in Greece. Texas is six times the size of Greece.  Greece is roughly the size of Louisiana.  In 2011, the US census estimated the population of Greece to be roughly 10 million. According to the latest census, 5 million individuals make up the population of Louisiana.  Let’s also remember that in 2011, the Greek economy was still on the verge of collapse.
The Greek isles have been inundated with refugees crossing the border from Syria to Turkey and risking their lives on the journey to Greece.  Roughly 4,000 drowned in the Mediterranean Sea last year. That does not include the nearly 350,000 that have died since the start of the civil war in Syria.
There is only so much the international world can do for the refugee population, and the Syrian refugee crisis; the real answer is to end the civil war in Syria. Although it’s a country surrounded by Abrahamic religions, which at their core share the same value of human life, preaching peace and prosperity for all, the death toll in Syria tells a different story.
Written by: Shirin Zarqa-Lederman