The Refugee Crisis: Is The World In A Moral Abyss?

The heartbreaking image of the Syrian toddler drowned and washed ashore alone in Turkey has forced the world to confront the magnitude of the migrant crisis happening in Europe and the Middle East. I am really shocked and saddened by the world's inaction, which has left me wondering- have we found ourselves in a moral abyss? 

 We have all heard about or read stories of migrants suffocated in trucks, run over by trains, drowned in capsized boats, and more. These tragedies have gone largely un-witnessed, making it easy for the world to turn a blind eye. But the heartbreaking image of the Syrian toddler drowned and washed ashore alone in Turkey has forced the world to confront the magnitude of the migrant crisis happening in Europe and the Middle East.

Like so many others, Abdullah Kurdi, his wife, and two young sons of just 2 and 4, attempted to flee their worn torn home in Syria and make the treacherous journey through the Mediterranean waters in search of a better life. Kurdi and his family boarded an overcrowded boat in Turkey with 12 passengers. The boat was capsized by strong waves. "I tried to reach for my wife and children," Alyan said. "I was in the water for 20 minutes. One person after another was dying." Kurdi’s wife and two sons drowned at sea, leaving him to survive his family alone.

“I don’t want anything else from this world,” the devastated father told CNN on Thursday. “Everything I was dreaming of is gone. I want to bury my children and sit beside them until I die.”

7.6 million people have been forced from their homes and more than 250,000 people have been killed since the start of the Syrian civil war that began 5 years, according to the United Nations. 2,500 people have died at sea this past Spring and Summer. The conflict in the region is destroying opportunities for an entire generation of kids. Syria once had one of the world’s highest literacy rates, but UNICEF has reported that now 13 million children, nearly 40%, are unable to attend school because of the ongoing conflict. Moreover, it is unacceptable that we have children dying like this in the 21st century. It is hard to understand how this can be allowed to happen. No child should be condemned to suffer because of where they were born.

Attention has fallen on the failure of many Western governments to adequately address the crisis and work to relieve the burden on Syria's neighboring countries, which are struggling to take on the brunt of nearly 4 million refugees.

Neighboring Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan have been the main recipients of refugees, but the EU has quickly become a hopeful place of asylum, with nearly 500,000 migrants having reached Europe this year. Germany has by far been the most hospitable, with Sweden not far behind. The rest of the world- both Western and Arab nations, need step up and do their part.

Amnesty International recently pointed out that the wealthiest nations in the Arab world are doing next to nothing for Syrian refugees, saying the "six Gulf countries -- Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain -- have offered zero resettlement places to Syrian refugees."

European leaders have planned a migration summit in Brussels on September 14th. Germany, Italy and France are calling for a more equal distribution of refugees throughout the EU. As of now, Germany has taken in about 40%, while Britain and Spain have done very little. American, by the way, who in my opinion has had a hand in starting the crisis through the wars it has fought in the region, took in just 36 Syrian refugees in 2013.

We have a shared moral obligation to step up during times like these. No country should refuse to step up and do its part because no country can do it alone. We must collectively take measures to stabilize the situation while coming up with long-term solutions.  Nobody should have to risk their lives, put their children in danger on unsafe smuggling boats because they have no other choice- or be turned away, desperately begging and pleading. Migrant, refugees, displaced people or whatever you may call them- they are people- human beings- first and foremost.
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