Friday, August 19, 2016

One in a Thousand

Despite common perceptions to the contrary, scarcely 1 person in a 1,000 displaced from Syria reaches the United. States. Those who do arrive rely on the kindness of neighbors for assistance during what will be the most difficult transition of their lives.
Najla, a Syrian refugee cooking for other refugees at
 Global Grace Café in Highland Park, New Jersey.
 Photo: Deborah Amos/NPR
A recent profile of one such community discusses the motivation of those who offer help and highlights the humanity -- as if it were in any doubt -- of the people who have fled the crumbling Assad regime. One of the longest-established, accomplished civilizations on the planet has unraveled, pushing millions out of their homes. The chaos that ensued when people organized against the tyrant Assad created an opening for terrorists,which in turn created an opportunity for Vladimir Putin to step in on behalf of his despotic ally.

This in turn has created an incredibly complicated and seemingly intractable milieu of conflict with many sides, many atrocities, and many innocent victims. In a year that has seen more involuntarily displaced persons than any other in history, Syria's situation is among the most grim.

I should be clear -- I am not suggesting that the U.S. should take in all the refugees or even a large proportion of them. And the individual communities -- such as those shown above -- who are directly supporting them deserve a lot of credit for doing so.
Most who flee Syria are living in neighboring countries. Map: UNHCR, Aug 2016
But the we suffer from serious misconceptions the scale of refugee resettlement. I have even heard it suggested that neighboring countries should be doing more -- despite the fact that six neighboring countries already ARE hosting most of the refugees, with most of the rest going to Europe.
Omran Daqneesh, sits in an ambulance Wednesday in Aleppo, Syria.
Image: Mahmoud Raslan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
Among the heroes who remain in Syria are those who operate hospitals and ambulances as the skies fall around them, and as hospitals themselves have become targets. At a time when many in the United States and Europe have come to fear victims of this devastation as much as the perpetrators comes a gripping reminder of just what is at stake -- the stunned silence of Omran Daqueesh has captured imaginations as few other victims have.
Update: The BBC reported on August 20 that Omram's ten-year-old brother Ali has now died, like far too many before him, and far too many to come.

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