Mass exodus from the Middle East causes congestion in European countries
Three year old refugee Aylan Kurdi lay face-down in the wet sand, his red shirt clinging to his still frame on Sept. 2, 2015. His five year old brother, Galip, washed up on the beach a short distance from him. The cold water from the Mediterranean Sea tickled Aylan’s body, but it was unable to elicit any action from the small youth. One of his black velcro shoes was halfway undone. One would expect his mother, Rehan, to smooth it over for him, but she met the same fate as her two sons on their escape to the Greek Island of Kos from the war torn beach resort of Bodrum; drowned after their 15-foot long skiff capsized. This catastrophe, although it was one of many, was the realization to the world of the seriousness of the refugee problem in Europe. The situation has been going on since 2011, when the Syrian Civil War began. The flow of refugees has divided nations between those willing to aid the refugees in their exodus and those who erect razor blade fences to keep the displaced people out.
In four years, 4.1 million Syrians, nearly 20 percent of the nation, have fled to other parts of Europe due to life-threatening factors. The horrors ISIS has inflicted on the citizens play a leading role in the tidal wave of immigration. Sharing the culpability is the President of Syria, Bashar al-Assad, as he uses the people of Syria as test dummies for chemical weapons the Syrian army intends to use. Out of fear of their country and lack of opportunity, the massive refugee flight to other countries has risen due to the hope of a better life. Elders and normal families with small children, like the Kurdi family, make the perilous journey in a desperate attempt to escape their current harrowing situation. Some, however, never make it to safety. Refugees are traveling by train, by bus, by foot, and by barely sea-worthy dinghies. They travel with little beyond the clothes on their back and their family. Some, have smartphones. All have hope.
Abdullah, a nine year old refugee from Turkmenistan, said in Time Magazine, “I had to leave all my toys behind. I don’t know when we left home. I don’t see the days.”
Other countries spewing refugees include 2.59 million from Afghanistan due to the war that has spanned over 33 years, and 1.1 million from Somalia. All together, there is an estimated 60 million migrants worldwide according to the Time Magazine.
The U.S. has responded by admitting 1,500 Syrian refugees into the U.S. since the start of the war in 2011, a mere .03 percent of the refugees seeking asylum, safety in a foreign nation from their native nation–but starting Oct. 1, President Barack Obama ordered the federal agencies to plan on taking in at least 10,000 Syrian refugees, according to a briefing on Sept. 10 by the White House Press Secretary, Josh Earnest.
Earnest said on behalf of President Obama, “So, now we know the scale of this problem. It’s significant. And there are millions of people who have been driven from their homes because of this violence.”
US’s response is a miniscule effort compared to Germany, who plans to welcome 800,000 refugees with open arms and fresh pastries by December. In September, 200,000 refugees sought asylum in the benevolent country. However, it is feeling the strain from the flood of thousands of refugees per day. The country is finding itself without enough resources, nor a quick enough process to accept the displaced people.
German foreign exchange student Leni Nitsche stays positive and said she believes the refugee overload “will cause a problem, and we will struggle, but we are developed enough to make it happen.”Her own town of Landshut is distant from the impacted areas; she has encountered the exodus nearby in Munich.
Nitsche said there are a lot of people in Germany who are vehemently against the refugees and Chancellor Angela Merkel, including Neo-Nazis, who are trying to use the refugee problem for their goals.
Yet, Nitsche thinks it’s beneficial and wants Germany to fulfill her country’s saying, Willkommenskultur, meaning ‘welcome culture’. She said the refugees make her country “more multicultural.”
Certainly many worldwide are opposed to the refugees. Due to the acts of individuals, such as an incident on Aug. 10 in a Swedish IKEA where two asylum seekers from Eritrea killed a mother, 58, and her son, 28, leading to labels and generalizations about all refugees. Many countries, such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Kuwait, fear that among the throngs of refugees, ISIS militants will disguise themselves and cause incidents like the shooting that occurred in January at the office of a satirical French newspaper.
American presidential candidate Donald Trump said the refugees “could be ISIS” and pledged that if he were to be elected “they’re going back.”
Viktor Orban, Prime Minister of Hungary, is less welcoming to the idea of being a more multicultural country because he believes that the refugees, since their religious preference is Muslim, will threaten Christianity in his country.
“We must not forget that those who are coming in have been brought up under a different religion and represent a profoundly different culture,” Orban said.
Orban closed his gates to refugees on Oct. 17. The day before, 6,353 refugees had passed through Hungary, but after they closed their borders only a mere 870 refugees were able to pass through, according to Aljazeera News. Hungary’s neighbor Croatia also closed its borders, forcing the refugees to Serbia, but two days later, Serbia also closed its borders to the refugees. The massive flow of people had been redirected to a much longer route through Slovenia on their quest to reach the richer, more welcoming countries, such as Sweden or Germany. However, things did not go as planned, two days after closing their borders, Croatia and Serbia loosened their restrictions on the borders for the refugees after leaving them stranded for days, ankle-deep in mud and rain.