Monday, September 3, 2012

The Accidental Refugees

A note circulating online a few weeks back addressed “our Syrian refugee brethren in Jordan,” and offered free housing to Syrian families in need of a place to stay. The terms “Syrian Refugees” sounded alien and shocking to me at the time. But since then, just like a well-orchestrated symphony, the words started popping up in various places, seeping into the news next to reports of bombings, massacres, a rising death toll, roadside bombs and the clearly evident sectarian strife. Words such as Christian and Druze started to appear occasionally as if to annotate the narrative and make it more fitting of a soon-to-be-announced full fledged civil war.

Nothing spells war better than the word refugee. As a child, my family fled the war in Lebanon several times. As tough as life was under constant bombardment and fear, it always felt good to return home and stay home despite the obvious dangers. There is something to be said about braving the violence with everyone else – Not always by choice – as if you are paying your dues just like everyone around you.

In Syria, people are fleeing in the thousands. Turkey was first to open its border to provide relief to Syrian citizens, assistance to the revolutionaries and allow humanitarian aid into the country. Lebanon took in the first mass waves of displaced Syrians; but a staunchly pro-Assad government is anything but welcoming and echoes the Assad government mantra that Syrians have nothing to fear and they must go back. Meanwhile, neighboring countries are officially readying and opening the camps in preparation from the newest refugees.. The Syrians. Jordan is already asking the world community for millions of Dollars to absorb this crisis of major proportions.

What Syrians can look forward to in addition to some peace of mind are tents, mattresses, blankets and pillows. Next will be the rice and sugar courtesy of this country and that nation. The phony compassion will descend upon the refugees who have found themselves without a country or a roof over their head and sought refuge from the unbearable violence. How did Syrians get to this point? How does any refugee become a refugee? It’s never by choice and it’s never an honor. Blame it on the circumstances and a people who found themselves betrayed by everyone. Fellow Syrians betrayed each other instead of protecting and honoring one another. Neighbors betrayed Syria because each one them followed their own interests and provided aid or assistance as if from a dropper. The world community betrayed Syria because it sees no benefit in getting involved. Russia and China betrayed Syria because international politics are worth more than the tens of thousands of lives lost and more that will be lost in the future.

The stark reminders between Syria today and Lebanon’s 15-year civil war are mind-boggling. Except in this age of speed and Internet in a faceoff with tyranny, propaganda, alarming death toll, destruction and crumbling infrastructure, Syria looks like it will surpass Lebanon in leaps and bounds. It is a sad reality that resembles the note of compassion circulating among people offering free housing. It is highly doubtful that those good samaritans are counting on people needing to stay for more than a few weeks or months.


Keep the conversation going...

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shame on world leaders who fail to take action to stem Assad's genocide in Syria. Syrian refugee indeed. What choice do they have? Any chance at life is better than the high probability of death in Syria.

What must the children of Syria think as they watch life as they knew it disappear and carnage fill their days? Assad is a demonic dictator who has placed his crazed need for power above the basic need for survival of the people in Syria.

As Syrians flee to refugee camps and leave their lives behind the news still focuses too much on starlets and technology and ignores the human suffering that goes on forever as long as dictators exist.

September 4, 2012 at 4:17 PM  

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