By Yvonne Curry
More than 200,000 Syrians have lost their lives in four years of armed conflict confirmed a report by BBC News March 12, 2015. The same report states that the conflict began with anti-government protests and was escalated into a full-scale civil war. More than 11 million others have been forced from their homes as forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad of Syria and those opposed to his rule battle each other – as well as jihadist militants from the Islamic State. The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon stated in a speech at the UN in January 2014, “What began as another Arab Spring uprising against an autocratic ruler has mushroomed into a brutal proxy war that has drawn in regional and world powers.”
As a result, this horrific outcry has touched individuals all over the globe. The Wall Street Journal reported on September 12, 2015 that tens of thousands of demonstrators in Europe rallied to express sympathy toward migrants seeking refuge in the region amid the largest migration of displaced people since the end of World War II. According to the Journal, about 30,000 people converged in Copenhagen carrying banners such as “Refugees Welcome.” In Hamburg, Germany, more than 24,000 people demonstrated against xenophobia and racism. Demonstrators also marched in London to pressure the British government to take in more refugees.
These world powers are not all on the same page as their protesters. In fact, the president of Hungary defended his country’s tough migrant policy in a German tabloid Bild quoted in an interview as staring, “These migrants don’t come from the war zone, but from camps in Syria’s neighboring countries Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, where they were in safety and thus didn’t fear of their lives, but for wanting a better life.” Hungary’s president also stated in the interview that he could understand the Syrian’s for this, but there is no fundamental right to a better life. He believes there is only a right to security and human dignity.
According to USAID.gov, the United States remains committed to helping the innocent children, women, and men affected by the ongoing conflict in Syria. The total U.S. humanitarian assistance since the start of the conflict in March 2011 is now more than $3 billion. The United States remains the single-largest donor of humanitarian aid for those affected by Syria’s crisis, which has become its biggest humanitarian emergency of our era.
An article, written by Hannan Adely of NorthJersey.com’s local news, stated that as the refugees arrive in the country in the next two years, many residents of North Jersey will likely meet people who have suffered and persevered in the way one family of Jersey City has described their journey from Syria.
Hussam Alroustom, his wife, and two children arrived in in Jersey City, New Jersey in July 2013 after fleeing Syria in April 2013. In the interview, Hussam explained how he and his family didn’t have the basics of life. They had lost everything, so for him and his family to come to the United States, he was willing because there was nothing for them to lose. Alroustom described in his interview a city called Homs where he and his family lived before the war.
Located in west central Syria it was one of the first places to join the rebellion against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, and it was commonly the site of mass anti-government demonstrations as passive protests were replaced by armed revolt once the country descended into civil war. When Alroustom and his family would return home after bombings, he said they would find shattered windows and blasted walls, until the toll was so great they decided to leave. The stayed with relatives in two other places, but those neighborhoods also came under fire.
It’s stories like Alroustom’s that may have prompted a national network for college students founded last year called Students Organize for Syria (SOS) featured in a September 16, 2015 article for USA Today to spring into action taking, the refugee crisis as a call to arms to reinvigorate their campaign to raise awareness about the plight of Syrians and the need to assist them in their quest for a free Syria, according to the article.
Moreover, the article states that SOS plans to partner with a program called Paper Airplanes this fall, which lets college students tutor Syrians in English via Skype. The program aims to help Syrians pursue a secondary education in the U.S., Turkey, Europe and more. If CCC college students would like to get involved log onto http://organize4syria.com/ and click “Get Involved.”