Originally written for Lex Solo`s Blog
It has been over 4 years since the Syrian civil war started. Although the Arab Spring took the whole Middle East by a storm, but the Syrians were the most affected.
An estimated 9 million Syrians have fled their homes since the outbreak of civil war in March 2011, taking refuge in neighbouring countries or within Syria itself. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), over 3 million have fled to Syria’s immediate neighbours Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq. 6.5 million are internally displaced within Syria. Meanwhile, under 150,000 Syrians have declared asylum in the European Union, while member states have pledged to resettle a further 33,000 Syrians. The vast majority of these resettlement spots – 28,500 or 85% – are pledged by Germany.
Those of us who have been blessed with the comfort of their homes, can`t even begin to imagine the difficulties, mental trauma and evils which the refugees have to face.
Syrian refugees come from all classes of the society, the rich and the poor. Life over the past 4 years has not been easy for them. Syrians who never imagined living a hard life, are now left with no option but to live with their entire family in a small UNDP prefabricated shelter in the middle of some desert, without adequate water or electricity. Well forget electricity, the mere fact that they at least have a shelter and rationed food is now considered a luxury. This however, is true only for a few thousand refugees who were lucky enough to make it to a refugee camp.
As for others, displaced with in Syria, or in other countries, life is not at all easy. Children have borne the brunt of the civil war. Some have been orphaned while others have been handicapped.
The stories coming out from Syria are numerous. Every story has a different tale, a different type of pain and struggle for life. Whilst the stories of survivors living near the fronts of battle are full of carnage, blood and brutality, the stories of those who fled the war to escape into neighbouring countries are full of suspense and horror. The stories of those who make it to the refugee camps portray a totally different picture of this civil war, they depict the raw struggle for life induced by the scarcity of resources, selfishness of human nature and also touching accounts of selflessness shown by those who think beyond their own interests.While the stories of those who have made it across the camps into neighbouring countries depict how unforgiving and cruel the world can be at times.
I am not playing with words to string up your emotions, these are the cold hard facts.
Coming from Pakistan, a country which faced the biggest refugee crisis in 1947-48 when it was formed and decades later another refugee crisis in 80`s during the Afghan war, I can say it with relative certainty that if not taken care, the refugee crisis can develop into something which will be much more difficult, for everyone to handle later on.
The refugees are not lesser beings, they too have self-respect and dignity. If they aren`t treated equally then I am afraid that the sense of marginalisation will take them on a wrong path. But taking care of refugees is not a solution in itself. The refugee crisis will only be solved when the Syrian civil war comes to an end.
This seems highly unlikely in the near future as the war just seems to go on without any end in sight.
This is a war and realism dictates that there will be casualties, there will be pain and blood. What concerns or rather saddens me the most is that the seeds of hatred have been sown. Hundreds and thousands of children have been displaced, their innocence has been trampled and crushed. They have been badly exposed to the raw ethnic and sectarian fault lines. They will grow up carrying this hatred in their hearts.
The future looks bleak, but if there is any hope, then it lies with in the Arabs, for the Arabs are remarkable people. They have a rich history, they have come out of much darker times in the past. They can do it again, I hope.