In the midst of the emotionally charged debate between domestic political parties, we are overlooking one of the world’s most pressing issues. Several nations’ current policies and rhetorics on the global refugee crisis have resulted in tens of thousands of deaths. Many nations that pride themselves on maintaining a significant majority of the world’s political influence, including China, Russia, the United States, and the United Kingdom, continue to exacerbate the issue by refusing to accept refugees, forcing them to battle the systems of powerful governments simply to escape their war-torn homes. The time has come for us to relieve them of this burden.
During the summer of 2015, according to the BBC, Europe and the Middle East encountered its highest influx of refugees since the end of the World War II. At the mercy of an authoritative government, religious extremists, terrorist organizations, and hostile neighboring nations unwilling to provide aid, Syrian civilians have little choice but to leave everything behind and attempt to seek asylum in more progressive countries that will welcome them. Amnesty International reports that only five countries provide aid through temporary camps to around 95% of Syrian refugees, while many European and Middle-Eastern countries have instituted new policies to permanently seal off their borders. This situation has left millions of Syrians endangered. At this critical juncture in the refugee crisis, the world should unite to provide these refugees with the basic human necessities that they so desperately lack. Yet, illogically, this crisis is doing just the opposite: it is driving us apart.
China, Russia, the U.S., and the U.K. have each established a relatively small cap on the number of refugees allowed into the respective countries. In fact, by the end of August of 2016, there were only nine Syrian refugees and 26 asylum seekers in China, according to “Foreign Policy.” Additionally, Human Rights Watch writes, “Russian officials have rejected any responsibility to do more to help refugees, claiming that Russia is doing its part simply by assisting the Syrian government in combating terrorist groups.” Both China and Russia have left Western nations to take responsibility for their own actions and cast blame upon the West for the refugee crisis.
When confronting issues that jeopardize humans’ lives, our world leaders should be able to temporarily set aside their egotistical and obstinate mindsets. As of 2017, England has taken in 18% of its “share” and only plans to admit 20,000 Syrian refugees by 2020, according to “The Independent.” The United States, once prepared to take in over 110,000 refugees, has modified its policies to temporarily ban any war-ridden refugees from seeking asylum in the country and plans to admit under 45,000 in the years to follow, as stated by the Migration Policy Institute. These decreasing numbers will inevitably result in more and more deaths. Arab nations along the Persian Gulf have also neglected their moral duty to provide asylum to Syrian refugees. These countries must do their part; innocent people facing a chaotic crisis should receive assistance from neighboring countries.
It is difficult for nations and their leaders, on a global scale, to support a unified and compassionate approach to the refugee crisis when most voters have a false sense of patriotism and nationalism. For example, in the U.S., the notion of “putting America first” has prevented various candidates with more flexible views towards the crisis from attaining the support they need to secure political positions, which would give them the platform to enact beneficial policies for refugees.
Various political campaigns around the world are taking a very conservative approach to this dilemma. These candidates tend to attract supporters who fear the economic detriment and increase in crime that refugees pose to sovereign states. In reality, these fears are unfounded. Although the acceptance of refugees will likely require small adjustments within economic structures, William Evans, professor and department chair of Economics at The University of Notre Dame, estimates that refugees still prove beneficial to the economy. Based on multiple studies executed over a 25 year period, Evans suggests that in the United States, refugees will pay significantly more in taxes over time than it costs for the government to relocate and set up special programs for them. In addition, a study by New American Economy examining places with the most dense population of refugees in the United States revealed that “9 out of 10 of the communities including Georgia, Michigan, and Utica actually became considerably safer, both in terms of their levels of violent and property crime.” However, in the U.S. and many other nations, there exists a notion that we must compromise on citizens’ safety in order to accept refugees. In reality, helping refugees and acting in citizens’ best interests are not mutually exclusive, and we must not treat them as a dichotomy.
With right-wing political candidates consistently securing positions of power, our moral duty to save innocent lives is, sadly, becoming an increasingly farfetched idea. We must work to dismantle the misconception that accepting refugees poses risks for the citizens of asylum countries, and we must do our part to provide them an escape from persecution. Unfortunately, working towards this solution has proven to be very difficult, because the world does not have one refugee problem. It has several.