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syrian refugee crisis: facts & thoughts

written for:

knotty tie co.

If not before the last few months, there is no doubt you will have heard of the Syrian refugee crisis by now. Roughly the size of Washington state, Syria is a country in the Middle East deep in the throes of a violent war. Antonio Guterres of the UNHCR commented that the situation in Syria “has become the biggest humanitarian emergency of our era, yet the world is failing to meet the needs of refugees and the countries hosting them.” The consequences of the ever escalating and convoluted war, are that half of Syria’s entire population of 22 million have been forced out of their communities, 4 million of which are refugees. While most have fled to Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan, Europe has absorbed an astonishing amount. The US has accepted 1,500 in the last 2 years, with plans from the Obama administration to accept 10,000 more in the next year. Let’s take a look at some numbers and facts to get a little perspective.

Countries receiving requests for asylum*:
Germany: 98,700
Sweden: 64,700
Hungary: 18,800
Countries currently hosting Syrian refugees*:
Turkey: 1.9 million
Iraq : 250,000
Lebanon: 1.1 million
Jordan: 630,000
USA: 1,500

In order to qualify for asylum or refugee status, one must meet stringent requirements. One must show that they are unwilling to return to their home country because they have been or will be persecuted there, and the reason they have been (or will be) persecuted must be connected to race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. The US screening process is much stricter than other countries, and specifically for those individuals who have any connection to countries posing a threat to the US. After being referred for refugee status, individuals must go through a lengthy round of interviews, background and identity checks, and biometric screenings with only the most vulnerable individuals being chosen for resettlement. The Department of Defense and the FBI vet the information to internal and shared databases. The average process takes 18-24 months, a tremendously long time for people fleeing war and living in squalid refugee camps.

Solomon, our of our talented production staff, and a refugee from Ethiopia, recounts his immigration story and thoughts on the current Syrian refugee crisis.

“It’s very difficult to get into America. After years in the refugee camps, one day they come and send 100 of us to the US embassy, and 100 to the Canadian embassy and like that. You have many interviews and the security asks you many questions about why you want to leave and why you want to go to America even though you had no choice in where you are going. When my families applications were accepted, our fights were scheduled for September 17th, 2001. Then 9/11 happened and all our applications were put on hold and flights cancelled. We were sent back to refugee camp and it took ten more years for us to come to America.

The Syrian refugee crisis is a big problem. The world is changing now. Because of the Parisian attacks, American’s don’t want to accept refugees. They are too scared. We’ve seen the pictures of the refugees with their bags on their heads and crouching down in the boats. It’s very dangerous. It’s important to have family nearby and a safe place to live – we are so thankful to be in America and have supportive case workers and employers. Everyone should have that.”

100% of the Syrian refugees that will be resettling in America this year, will arrive with the knowledge that they are feared and unwelcome. We must remember that refugees are people too. And after fleeing war, and having to give up their homes, jobs, families, and countless else, they have to learn a new culture and most likely will never be allowed to return home. What can we do to reverse the damage of the legacy that America is projecting to the world right now?

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”
– Quote from the State of Liberty

At Knotty Tie Co., we believe in the power of individuals assembling their friends and families to affect positive change on their communities and the world. Let’s join together in compassion. Let’s get creative in how we can help. Let’s go out of our way to make sure every single one of ten thousand Syrian refugees entering America feel welcome and cared for.

*(These numbers reflect only the highest statistics. There are many other countries receiving requests for asylum and hosting Syrian refugees)

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