BY JACLYN CIMARUSTI Staff Writer
It all started back in March of 2011 when a young group of people were arrested for spray-painting a phrase of the Arab Spring on the wall of a school: “The people want the fall of the regime.” They were reportedly arrested and severely tortured. Peaceful protests for the young adults release agitated the Syrian government, so they lashed back and killed four protesters. They even shot at mourners at one of the victims funerals. The country broke out in civil war, and the Syrian people have been fleeting the country ever since.
The government has been using chemical warfare and it was reported that day-long air strikes were executed against the rebels. According to the United Nations within the four years of this conflict two hundred and fifty thousand lives have been lost and more than twenty two point four million people have been displaced and have fled to neighboring countries or abroad. Jordyn Looman, McKendree transfer student and cross country athlete explains why it is our responsibility and obligation not only as students, but as human beings to help as much as we can, “Sometimes we take our civil rights for granted in this country. We have to have empathy for other people. If this was happening to our families we would do everything in our power to stop it.”
An extreme amount of Syrian refugees have fled to Jordan and Lebanon. Mercy Corps has been working with them since 2012. Due to limited resources and the increasing amount of refugees, they are struggling to meet with the growing demands. In August of 2013 thousands of refugees fled to Northern Iraq. Not only do they have the Syrian refugees to accommodate, they have more than one million displaced Iraqis as well. They are also fleeing into Turkey which is creating extreme cultural tensions. Hundreds of thousands of people are attempting to cross the Mediterranean sea from Turkey to Greece. Most of them don’t make it across alive.
Germany has taken in more than seventy five thousand refugees. President Obama has pledged to take in ten thousand refugees by the end of the year. Thousands of Syrians flee the country every day. They either leave because seeing of their neighborhoods bombed or seeing their family members being killed. The risk of travel is their lives. Families walk endless miles and risk being shot by government snipers, or having their young men kidnapped to fight for the regime. McKendree student Ciara Janas says, “ It’s just sad that there is such a division between the government and the people. The cost is innocent lives.”
According to the United Nations there are more than four million Syrian refugees. They are the worlds largest refugee population under U.N. mandate. Refugees have been reported finding shelter where they can. Families have been seen living in rooms with no heat or running water, sheds, and even a chicken coop. According to the United Nations more than half of the refugees are under the age of eighteen. These are people. They breathe and bleed just like us. They deserve are attention. We cannot ignore them. We are all human beings and we need to fight for one another.
Mercy Corps is currently addressing the immediate needs of 3.4 million people. They deliver food and clean water. They also provide families with clothes, mattresses, and other household necessitates. They also provide social services to the families and children who have suffered severe emotional trauma because of this crisis. Their focus is helping communities and refugees work together in hopes of creating tolerance and decreasing the social tension. Also to find reasonable solutions to the financial strains it puts on the countries who have opened their doors.
The Syrian Crisis affects us because it is affecting our fellow men and women. Despite ethnic and cultural differences, in the end we are all human beings and we all have a right to life. We have to stand up for one another in the name of humanity and moreover morality. Sometimes we tend to look away from things that don’t directly involve us. Ask yourself one question: If this was your reality, wouldn’t you want someone to stand up for your right to life? So get informed, inform people, donate, and stand up for the right to life.