Heartbreaking coverage of the Syrian refugee crisis has dominated news sources over the last few weeks, though there has been a bit of confusion about what is actually going on there.
In a recent video for Vlogbrothers, The Fault In Our Stars and Paper Towns author John Green has laid out exactly what is going on in this terrible crisis, and offers some hope about what could be done to solve the refugee crisis once and for all.
Though most people have become acutely aware of Syria's refugee crisis within the last month, the trouble began in 2011 when rebel forces viewed President Bashar al-Assad's political party as corrupt, and attempted to get him out of power. Instead, a massive civil war has erupted, and millions of people have been displaced from their homes.
While refugees — people who are fleeing violence or disaster areas—should be given certain protections under international law. Unfortunately, to get out of the responsibility of taking care of these people, politicians in certain countries have been referring to them as "economic migrants," who are willfully leaving their country for opportunity, not for safety's sake. As Green explains, this removes a considerable amount of obligation that countries have for accepting these people and the tremendous financial responsibility that comes along with it. But make no mistake, the majority of these people are refugees.
With certain countries denying the legitimacy of refugees' claims and desire to seek sanctuary in Europe, many have desperately turned to human smugglers to take the dangerous journey out of Syria and into Europe.
"European governments want to make it difficult for refugees to get to Europe, they benefit when the trip is dangerous. If it were made safe or easy, there would be far more refugees coming to Europe," Green points out.
While some politicians aren't in favor of accepting these refugees, not everyone feels that way.
In certain European countries, large crowds of people are welcoming the refugees. Necessities like food, clothing, water, and even toys for children. As gracious as these gestures may be, it isn't enough to solve the problem at hand, and certainly won't help refugee situations in the future.
There needs to be a comprehensive, long-term strategy put into place. Those of us in a position of privilege have a legal and moral duty to do right by those who are not.
"We are one species, sharing one profoundly interconnected world and humans, ALL humans, are our people," Green states emphatically. "And when the oppressed and marginalized die because they are oppressed and marginalized, the powerful are at fault."