Syrian refugees are humans

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Michelle Wong, Copy Editor

News sources are calling it the greatest refugee displacement since World War II.

Syria’s refugee crisis is the most recent part of a long, confusing history of war and civil unrest. This includes power struggles, civil war, extremist terrorism, a corrupt military and violent military opposition.

According to World Vision, more than 240,000 people have died in the conflict. One million more have been wounded or permanently disabled. Now as Syrian residents flee the country to avoid the violence, they face a dangerous journey – sometimes on foot to neighboring countries. So what does the Syrian refugee crises really look like?

A minority of the refugees are previous refugees from Iran. While in Syria, Iranian refugees faced opposition for coming into Syria and needing jobs. Now, many are on their way back to Iran, choosing to live in which they consider the lesser of two violent countries. The rest are mainly native Syrian men, women and children, who are now finding they are in the same phase of dis-welcome.

Some critics are saying other countries should not get involved, because refugees might just be military-aged men fleeing duty to fight the resistance. Countries who are accepting many refugees also face their own problems. Greece for example, has been open to accepting Syrian refugees but has such a poor economy it can barely support and employ its own residents.

Others warn that some refugees may not even be Syrians. As we learned from a recent Telegraph article, there are some immigrants who try to cheat the system. Fraudulent Syrian passports have been found in countries like Turkey, which accepts the most refugees. Numerous reports have also concluded that many refugees are plants for ISIS.

When considering this issue, it’s important to remember that out of the near 12 million Syrian refugees, around half are children, according to World Vision. For many, our minds jump to the image of a small Syrian boy, Aylan Kurdi, whose body was found washed up on the Turkish shore after attempting the dangerous trip across the Mediterranean Sea.

For many children on the run, the refugee crisis looks like disease, dehydration, malnutrition and gaps in educational development. Many schools have been damaged, occupied by violence or destroyed since 2011. As crowds of refugees try to enter the boarders in unfamiliar places, children are at high risk of sexual abuse, molestation and exploitation.

With a lack of income, and for fear of their daughters being unsafe, many single mothers feel trapped into marrying off their daughters at as young as 13. For the children still in Syria, they are at risk for being forcibly recruited as fighters and human shields by warring parties, according to the 2015 U.S. State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report.

Father of the young boy who drowned, Abdullah Kurdi, spoke of his feelings as a refugee after losing his whole family that day. “Now I don’t want anything. Even if you give me all the countries in the world, I don’t want them. What was precious is gone,” he said.

It’s valid to question whether countries can financially support an influx of refugees, and given the numerous reports it’s fair to be apprehensive about the true identities of the refugees. Above all, though, it’s important that we do not forget that the Syrian refugees are people. We must not allow ourselves to dehumanize them, even with the concerning reports.