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The Syrian Refugee Crisis: Post-Paris Attack

On November 13, the world was shocked by a series of terrorist attacks in Paris, France. As the world grieved for Paris, people began to wonder how these attacks would impact everyday life worldwide. As world leaders and citizens started to ask questions about safety and security, many people also began to question why these attacks happened.

The extremist group ISIL eventually took responsibility for one of the worst terrorist attacks in European history. Backlash then quickly turned to Syrian refugees, after a Syrian passport was discovered near the body of one of the attackers. It appears that the passport was forged. According to French officials, the passport actually belonged to a Syrian loyalist soldier who died a few months ago.

Despite this information, many people in Western Europe and the United States still think that their government should not admit Syrian refugees. In fact, a recent survey found that 54% of Americans oppose taking in Syrian refugees. This number is likely so high because the same survey found that 52% of Americans believe that the screening process is not effective at weeding out terrorists.

What Does This Mean for Syrian Refugees?

So, where does this leave Syrian refugees? Simply put, in a terrible position. Syrian refugees are fleeing the same terror that the world witnessed in Paris. The refugees experienced this terror on a daily basis in Syria and now, the very terrorist acts they were fleeing, are preventing them from finding safety in a new country.

More than half of the states in the United States do not want to accept any more Syrian refugees and lawmakers across Europe are calling for caps on the number of refugees admitted to their countries. Many of the refugees who are lucky enough to have already made it to Western Europe or the United States are now subject to suspicion, prejudice, and scrutiny.

Even though the climate in Western Europe and the United State isn’t exactly friendly towards Syrian refugees, hundreds of thousands of them are still trying to reach these countries. For example, over 220,000 refugees crossed the Mediterranean Sea this October, an all-time high for this time of year.

Thousands more are traveling to Greece through Turkey with the goal of reaching Western Europe through the western Balkans. However, it is becoming more difficult to travel through the Balkans, as many of these countries have started to push back against the influx of refugees.

This means that thousands of refugees are just stuck where they are for now, but these places are ill-equipped to handle the number of refugees within their borders.

In Greece, there are “transit camps” but these camps are disorganized and do not have enough resources to go around. In the village of Moria on Lesbos, there are rarely enough beds in the camp, so refugees have formed a tent village outside the walls of the camp. With winter on the horizon, the refugees in this tent village are forced to burn garbage to keep themselves warm.

Winter also brings a new set of problems as temperatures begin to drop. Many countries, like Croatia, have only just started to prepare winter facilities for the refugees within their borders. A transit camp at Slavonski Brod is full of tents with heated bunk beds, but refugees can only stay in the tents for a few hours before they must move on.

Many of the refugees still do not have winter clothing. While some camps have started to distribute cold-weather items, some refugees still only have flip-flops to wear.

The lack of warm clothing, combined with the long and difficult journey faced by the refugees, has caused the health of the refugees to deteriorate. Among the most common problems are norovirus and scabies.

It only takes a few weeks on the road before their health starts to suffer. In fact, aid workers in Serbia report that mothers become so weak after just two weeks of travel that they are no longer able to properly care for their children.

What Can Be Done?

The situation for refugees is dire and seems to grow worse as the temperatures drop and anti-refugee sentiments rise. As the situation grows more desperate, it becomes necessary to act before it develops into an even worse humanitarian crisis.

The problems might seem insurmountable, but that is all the more reason to take action now. There are little things that everyone can do to improve the situation. If every person does one little thing to help, think of how big of an impact all of those little actions would have collectively.

Whether you want to educate the people around you about the Syrian Refugee Crisis or donate money to reputable charities like Save the Children or International Rescue Committee, every little bit helps.

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