22 October 2015

The Explainer: The Syrian Refugee Crisis

The highly regressive version of Islam imposed on the region’s hapless people by the Islamic State has triggered a mass displacement of Syrians. 

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), there are a total of 41.8 lakh Syrian refugees. This figure includes includes 21 lakh Syrians registered by UNHCR in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon, 19 lakh Syrians registered by the Government of Turkey, as well as more than 26,700 Syrian refugees registered in North Africa, as of the third week of October 2015.

Today Syria has the largest number of internally displaced people (IDP) in the world with over seven million people living away from home to escape the conflict zones. In addition, another four-and-a-half million Syrians have escaped from the region and poured into neighbouring Muslim nations and Europe where they have triggered the largest migrant crisis since the end of the Second World War. 

There has been intense criticism of the Muslim nations that have refused to open doors to the Syrian refugees; rich Arab nations like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and UAE have been indifferent to the plight of the fleeing multitude of Syrians.

On the other hand, Syria’s neighbours like Turkey and Lebanon have kept their doors open to the Syrian refugees, each taking at least one million of them while Jordan and Egypt have accepted substantial number of refugees.

However, it is the mass exodus of Syrians to Europe that has rang alarm bells in the region. Thousands of Syrian refugees are braving inclement weather, choppy seas, dishonest people smugglers, border fences, and hostile governments and local populations to reach Europe, especially Germany and France.

While the European Union has, on a general note, welcomed the refugees, there has been a backlash in several EU nations, like Hungary and Slovakia. In fact, the two countries have vowed not to accept any refugees even if the EU imposes any refugee quotas on its members. In a rather different twist, Slovakia agreed to take in 200 Syrian refugees only if they are Christian.

While Germany has opened doors to the refugees, the political leadership, led by Chancellor Angela Merkel, is facing a domestic backlash for being too soft on migrants. There has been an upsurge in violence against migrants across Germany, especially in the wake of calls by anti-migrant organisations who allege that the influx of Syrians will destroy the religious character of their nation.

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