Syria deserves our action and attention

Troy Wilkinson

Disaster is afoot, and it seems as if almost nobody in America cares. For those who don’t know, Syria is engulfed in violence and war between several different factions, which include the original Syrian government, the rebel regime, The Islamic State in the Levant (ISIL) and others. More than 250,000 individuals have died from the crisis so far. It’s a horrid situation, but the true weight of it isn’t quite being grasped by Americans. It appears that our political election (and all of its shenanigans) has overshadowed the Syrian conflict.

The Syrian conflict deserves a great deal of our attention. Even though it’s tremendously important we give time and focus to our presidential election, something much greater is going on in the world, and must not be shoved under the rug.

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Out of the 250,000 deaths there are a variety of causes. Syrians are being killed through chemical warfare, air strikes, torture, kidnapping and several other ways. That’s not even close to being the end of the devastating impact of the conflict, either — There are more than four million Syrian refugees who have taken asylum in other nearby countries, and on top of that, over seven million Syrians who have been internally displaced, meaning they have to move from their home to elsewhere within the country. Of that seven million, about half are children.

We have lost focus on what real problems are, and gotten out of touch with our international empathy. The fact that over 12 million individuals lives were drastically affected, whether they were killed or displaced, is such a massive event that it seems odd so many people don’t even know a lot about what’s going on in Syria.

The total number of Syrian refugees that the U.S. has taken in as of September is less than 2,000, whereas Germany, another developed country, has taken in close to 100,000. The U.S. is failing to be much of an assisting hand within this conflict, plain and simple. Sure, we don’t need to be the caretaker of the world, but we can, at the least, take in more Syrian refugees than a measly 2,000.

Obama has said that the U.S. will take in 10,000 next year, and that’s a good start, but still nearly one-tenth of what Germany is doing though we are a much larger country. Granted the U.S. takes in refugees from other areas all around the world that are in need of sanctuary totaling to around 70,000 annually, but let’s get more from this perilous conflict into safe homes in America. Syria is one of the most dangerous areas to be in right now, so lets change our refugee acceptance limits and distributions to reflect the global landscape.

Part of the reasoning behind our sluggish acceptance of Syrian refugees is the long security process they must go through in order to be placed here. Obviously it’s good that we have security practices for bringing in refugees, but millions of people are fleeing from such perilous conditions. That begs the question: should we be willing to sacrifice some of those precautions to save more lives?

America needs to be giving the Syrian conflict more of our attention, it’s a horrid situation that, just because it’s across the globe from us, doesn’t invalidate its intensity and seriousness. We also should be willing to accept more refugees from the crisis.

If we don’t change our perceptions and actions towards the Syrian conflict, we need to realize that we are putting our relatively petty daily experiences above the lives of human beings. Our domestic issues are important, of course, but in the grand scheme of things ,there are thousands of individuals getting killed or being forced out of their homes. 

Let’s use some of our capital to help the Syrians out. USA for UNHCR is a refugee assistance organization that is accepting donations in order to provide emergency relief for refugees, why not give them $15 or $20? We should also tell our representatives that we want to be a bigger assisting hand in this conflict, you can tell Jared Polis your opinion on his website.

Ask yourself: is my life here in America worth more than a Syrians? If not, then why aren’t we doing more? It’s something to think about. 

Collegian Columnist Troy Wilkinson can be reached at letters@collegian.com, or on Twitter @BluMitts.

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