Since the Syrian civil war began in 2011, half the entire population of Syria – more than 11.5 million people have been forced from their homes. More than 300,000 have been killed, 150,000 in the last year. Over four million Syrians have fled the country, into neighboring countries.
The people attempting to escape to Europe have been the focus of dramatic media attention. In July and August 110,000 people, mostly fleeing from Syria, made the exhausting 2000-mile journey to Europe, hoping to find safety and work. More than 2,600 people drowned trying to reach Greece or Italy. Some suffocated in locked trucks abandoned by murderous smugglers who left them to die.
Tens of thousands have been turned back by police at the borders of Europe, herded into camps with little food, shelter or sanitation, sometimes forced to camp out at bus and rail stations because there is no other place to go. Recently, Hungarian police attacked several thousand refugees at the border. Women and children were beaten with clubs, tear gassed and shot with water cannons.
The heads of state in the U.S., and Europe claim their resources and social programs are not sufficient to assist these desperate people. They make the same claims when cutting social services, defending plant closings and layoffs in their countries. These politicians are using scare tactics to get people to support their shameful policies. But it hasn’t worked everywhere. Tens of thousands of Europeans demonstrated, welcoming the refugees.
Most of the millions of people who have been displaced in the region are the victims of the oil wars waged by the U.S. and its allies. Until last year, Afghans were the largest global refugee population at 2.6 million people – almost 10 percent of the country’s entire population. The U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 led to millions fleeing the country and more than two million displaced internally. The continuing political crisis continues to force tens of thousands of people to leave Iraq each month.
The U.S. occupation and war on Iraq unleashed the conflict throughout the region. Its policies of manipulation and control deepened the resistance to the U.S. Some former Iraqi military officers who turned against the U.S. helped form ISIS, along with other anti-U.S. militias in Iraq and Syria.
The crisis in Syria developed during the Arab Spring when a section of the Syrian population revolted against the government of Bashar Al-Assad. Since then, Syria has been torn apart by warring factions. The crisis has been intensified by involvement of a number of outside forces, including the U.S. and the growth of ISIS.
The response of the U.S. government and its European allies to the millions of refugees has revealed their true character. The leaders of the European Union claim to be concerned about the disruption of life in their countries, as if 500,000 people added to a total population of 500 million would create any real disruption. And the U.S., with all its wealth and power says it will accept 15,000 more refugees next year and maybe more in 2017.
Those responsible for this tragedy have forced the crisis on other nations in the region. Syria already had an estimated 1.2 million Iraqi refugees. Jordan had accepted 750,000 Iraqis and now one million Syrian refugees. Its population is less than 7 million. Lebanon has taken in more than one million Syrian refugees into a country of 4.5 million. Jordan has accepted close to one million.
It has been the ruthless policies of the U.S. and other powers that have thrown millions of people’s lives into crisis. When it comes to waging war there is no limit on the billions of dollars that can be spent. Refugees from this terror have every right to flee their conditions and seek a life elsewhere. They’re fighting for survival against a system that has destroyed their lives. It is an economic system that is against the vast majority of people on the planet. Refugees should be welcomed to all countries – their crisis is our crisis.