Syrian refugee crisis continues to claim lives

Lauren Savana, Centurion Newspaper

The refugee crisis in Europe has claimed the lives of an estimated 310,000 people, a number that continues to rise as surrounding countries look for a solution.
The Syrian civil war began in 2011, when Syrians, angry at the brutal dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad, tried to rise up and overthrow the government. They began with peaceful protests, according to the German news site, Spiegel International.
Assad responded in many cases by slaughtering protesters and even using chemical weapons against his own people.
BBC reported that over 310,000 people were killed in the past four years during this conflict.
According to Newsweek this has caused Syria to divide into three separate territories; rebel fighters such as the Free Syrian Army, supporters of the Assad regime, and Islamic extremists like ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria).
A 2011 article from Yalibnan, a Lebanon news site, states that an estimated that 300,000 people were escaping Syria.
Now, in 2015, according to the UNHRC, more than 4 million refugees have fled Syria to neighboring countries, making the Syrian conflict the UN Refugee’s Agency’s worst crisis for almost a quarter of a century.
Alexa Firat, an Assistant Professor of Arabic in the Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Languages and Studies at Temple University, was asked why Bashar Al-Assad was bombing his own citizens, “He is fighting against losing power. He is using might to break down the opposition – the same strategy 
his father (Hafiz al-Assad, president 1970-2000) used. And he is able to use the guise of fighting terrorism – whether that be ISIS or any one/party opposing his regime’s rule.”
In Firat’s opinion “Airstrikes in Syria (and elsewhere in the region: Afghanistan, Pakistan) have not produced any meaningful results and only damage. They damage buildings and infrastructure, and of course, cause the loss of more lives. Civilians are being hit. ISIS cannot be “erased” by bombs, it is much more of a complex issue.”
What’s truly frightening is that most of the citizens who try to escape from under Assad’s rule have the Islamic extremists to run from as well. Though Assad is not connected with ISIS he is profiting off of them militarily and strategically, says Firat.
The New York Times wrote an article in 2015 telling readers that Assad has made deals with ISIS usually out of necessity and have had a long pragmatic approach to dealing with the extremist group during the past several years.
The Syrian citizens who do have the opportunity to flee from their home country have mainly taken refuge in the immediate countries such as Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq, and Egypt. As for the Gulf countries this is where the criticism lies, says Firat.
Firat explains that these countries simply don’t have the funds or space to take in millions or even thousands of refugees.
“These are very small countries/states where the immigrant working population in many of them is already larger than the indigenous population. Yemen is fighting its own war that is being led by Saudi Arabia these days.” Firat adds.
UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, goes into detail of how these refugees deserve the support of the world, but instead they are living in dire conditions with no food, shelter, health care, or education.
Thankfully, the immediate host countries housing the Syrian refugees have Doctors without Borders, groups like UNHRC, UNICEF, St. Andrews’ Refugee Service in Egypt, and Refugee Solidarity Network in Turkey helping with the ongoing crisis.
The Center for High Impact Philanthropy at the University of Pennsylvania wrote an article specifically telling people how they can get involved to help in this crisis and many others like it.
The University of Pennsylvania wrote that many refugees need legal aid. When refugees want to come to America for example they have to be processed from where they first fled, which is why organizations like Asylum Access and Iraq Refugee Assistant Projects exist and need support from people across the globe. To help, people can log onto their websites and donate money.
When asked if there is an end in sight to this current crisis, Firat says “Many people feel the end point is approaching, the big issue is who will be allowed to negotiate – internally, the SNC (the coalition government outside Syria) refuses to negotiate with al-Assad and the regime; meanwhile, he is refusing to go and outside forces, like Russia and Iran, insist he be a part of it.”
“As well, the US will have to take a decisive role in the negotiations, something they are reluctant to do – they are more concerned with Iran and Israel, and other issues in the region.”
In most recent events, Russia has main control of the skies in Syria due to their longstanding relationship with the Assad regime.
Russia is said to be targeting the Islamic State says BBC in their most recent article on the current bombings but they have recently bombed U.S-backed Syrian Army areas.
The Obama Administration believes that the bombing campaign in support of Assad is only strengthening the Islamic State.
As of right now, two of the main powers in the world, America and Russia are arguing over each other’s roles in assuring an end to the current civil war in Syria.
Until the Syrian civil war is resolved, the millions of families that fled from their homes have no hopes of returning.