A Comprehensive Response to the Syrian Refugee Crisis: Highlighting the United States’ Role in the International Effort
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The Syrian refugee crisis is the largest humanitarian and geopolitical problem facing the world today. The consequences of this crisis, which are rooted in an ongoing civil war, are far reaching and have affected not only the Syrian people, but also Syrian neighbor countries, the European Union (EU), the United States, Russia, Iran, and many other members of the international community. Since 2011, more than four and a half million Syrian nationals have emigrated from Syria, while nearly eight million others have become internally displaced people (IDP) within their own country. The refugee crisis, which has already become the largest emergency of its kind since World War II, has significantly challenged many nations’ abilities to provide effective relief and exposed shortfalls in international law. Yet the conflict in Syria has left the country in a state of disarray that does not indicate any quick return to normalcy or immediate opportunity for repatriation. The civil war in Syria initially began with anti-government protests that surfaced in 2011 in response to the government’s arrest and torture of several teenagers for painting revolutionary slogans. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s strong opposition to the demonstrations only resulted in a greater escalation of conflict that would eventually develop into a full-scale civil war. The war has now cost more than 250,000 people their lives as a result of the armed conflict between forces loyal to Bashar al-Assad, moderate opposition forces, and jihadist members of the Islamic State (ISIL). Additionally, more than 12 million Syrian citizens have been displaced while these forces vie for control of the region. The consequences of this refugee crisis have so far presented a monumental challenge to the international community. Syrian neighbor countries have seen the largest influx of refugees, and their ability to effectively accommodate them has been greatly tested. Turkey, Jordan, and Lebanon have granted asylum for the large majority of Syrian refugees and are providing them with services such as education, healthcare, and shelter. However, the large number of refugees has strained their economies, infrastructure, and political systems. As a result, many more refugees are seeking asylum in Europe where states are struggling to adapt to the growing influx. Consequently, political divisions have arisen within and between EU member states regarding international policy decisions and debate concerning each country’s role in protecting refugees.
- SIS 495 Task Force