Possible Next Steps For Syrian Refugees

While the globe was celebrating the coming new year, artillery fire didn’t stop in Syria. Nine people, including five innocent children, were killed by a Syrian military attack in a school of Idlib, a northern city being held by rebels opposed to President Bashar al-Assad. Being run by Syria Relief, a U.K. humanitarian organization, the school still suffered from the flames of war, revealing the dark side of refugees’ living situation even with continuous international aid.

In 2019, over 400,000 Syrians were displaced to other domestic cities as a result of hostilities. Shadows of aerial bombardment and bullets loom over Syrian towns, intensifying the refugee crisis. The Syrian Civil War, which broke out in March 2011, includes complicated factions: Syrian Armed Forces and its international allies, Salafi jihadist groups, the mixed Kurdish-Arab Democratic Forces and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. International humanitarian assistance continues to come from NGOs like the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). This assistance includes offering tents, food, clean water, and medicine. To relieve regional conflicts, safe zones near the Syrian national boundary line were created by countries like Turkey, the U.S., and Russia. The countries of the European Union were also offered as another shelter. However, with the enormous amount of displaced persons, these supports seem like a drop in the bucket. 

The emergency of allocation, a steep increase of victims, and cold winter weather raise difficulties for NGOs to assist the Syrian refugees. Data cleaning and verification collected by different members enhance difficulties for staff to make quick and flexible responses. Lack of fuel also becomes a challenge for displaced people looking to access safe locations. Limitations of specific medical facilities and surgeons towards communicable diseases, dystocia, and pediatric diseases challenge the health level of displaced people. Due to the active conflicts, the mobile service is unstable, weakening the connections between aid institutions and at-risk groups. Insufficiency of funds targeting displaced children exposes them to the risks of recruitment and marriage. Refugee acceptance of other countries is pessimistic as well because of erect walls and potential racism. 

More effective actions should be taken, especially by powerful countries. The “hotspot approach” being used by Greece and Italy could be useful for identifying refugees. This method involves initial reception, registration, collecting systematic fingerprinting, and relocation of refugees. With the process being put into practice more, asylum applications can be processed more quickly. To maintain a secure environment for both migrants and residents, sufficient armed police force should be set to deter irregular immigration. Moreover, emergency relocation mechanisms and funding for dealing with overcrowded pressure in hotspots should be prepared. Since each hotspot has a finite capacity, ensuring an orderly refugee movement can be vital: verifying, relocating and sending those substandard migrants back need to be as soon as possible.  

More possible solutions to this crisis are as follows. A sharable information system can improve the cooperation of various countries, institutions, and organizations, improving the traceability of individuals’ conditions. Such a system can prevent crimes to some extent. The media should also make a positive change by building a bridge between the public and refugees, whose voices need to be strengthened since there are predominant stereotypes and discrimination towards them. More authentic “safe zones” need to be set up, rather than the current ones being placed and stuck in ongoing fighting zones. Armed forces belonging to different countries should guarantee the ceasefire agreement strictly. Instead of being trapped in detention camps without warrants, refugees should be regulated by a fair system. On account of the widespread impacts of the Syrian migrant crisis, an international coalition should be formed by holding more frequent and sincere diplomatic conversations.

Once refugees are relocated, unofficial groups can play a part in offering displaced people with education and training, Since over 70% of Syrian refugee are women, they can be taught skills like knitting, which can be channelled to proper jobs within the handicrafts or service industry. Other subsequent efforts need to be done. Specialized agencies and governments should update migrants’ information and affirm their living conditions in case of any cultural or ethnic conflict. Integration programs could include separating legitimate migrants into small groups and distributing them to corresponding mentors, tested for their communication skills, work ethics, and empathy abilities. Despite various thresholds and arguments ahead, addressing the Syrian refugee crisis in a harmony way will not be a utopia with worldwide cooperation. The globalization trend could make everyone be a stakeholder.

Yuexin Li
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