In Aleppo, a Syrian city ravaged by war, civilians struggle to escape from continuous bombings by its very own government.
More than 8 million Syrian children, inside and outside the country, are in need of humanitarian aid. Millions of these children have borne witness to unrelenting violence from the brutal conflict that began more than five years ago, according to the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF).
“For the youngest Syrian children, this crisis is all they have ever known,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake in the UNICEF Children of Syria Speak series. “For adolescents entering their formative years, violence and suffering have not only scarred their past; they are shaping their futures.”
One of these children is Moheb, an 11-year-old boy who lives in Aleppo. “I lost my friend Omar. We were together one day, he got up to go home. The next day, I heard that he had died. He was home with his parents. A bomb landed on them and they were all killed. Before he died he gave me a notebook. He said this was a gift from me to you. It’s the most precious thing I own,” Moheb said in a UNICEF video series.
This is a story that millions of Syrians are telling. Since 2011, more than 470,000 Syrians have died due to the conflict, according to Syrian Center for Policy Research. This number is only going to increase as more and more bombs are dropped each day.
For those who try to escape this living hell, the process is extremely hard. Refugees have traveled all across the world, including the United States, seeking safety. While many countries have allowed them in and found very few problems, people in the United States struggle with the idea, citing issues of crime and terrorism.
Often these issues are more nuanced than they seemed. For instance, some media reported that a Syrian refugee bombed the German city Ansbach, but that isn’t true. The bomber was a rejected asylum seeker, not a refugee, who was soon going to be deported from the country.
Another common misconception about refugees is their effect on crime rates. There have been claims that people seeking asylum are somehow more likely to commit crimes, especially crimes relating to sexual assault. Yet again, Germany provides an excellent example that these claims are simply not true.
Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Agency reported that between 2014 and 2015, the number of refugees allowed into the country increased by 440 percent, yet the number of crimes committed by refugees increased only by a small percentage.
“The current trend shows that refugees are just as unlikely to commit crimes as comparable groups among the current population. The majority of them don’t commit crimes, they are seeking protection and and peace in Germany,” Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière said.
Contrasting the fear mongering message that social media reports, only 1 percent of these refugee-related crimes fell into the sexual offense category.
Since 1980, the United States has allowed millions of refugees into the country, including hundreds of thousands from the Middle East. Not one has committed an act of terrorism in the U.S., according to Huffington Post. All of these refugees go through rigorous vetting before being allowed into a country.
“Syrians and other refugees from the Middle East are escaping unspeakable horrors. To get to our country, refugees already go through a vigorous vetting program by the FBI, National Counterterrorism Center, Homeland Security and the State Department. The process takes almost two years and refugees from Syria face additional scrutiny,” said Bernie Sanders in his petition to allow 10,000 Syrian refugees into America, which can be read at http://bit.ly/2fD3vvb.
Keeping all of this in mind, there are numerous reasons why Syrian refugees should be allowed into the United States. Refugees have proven in the past that they can contribute a lot to our society, and therefore the United States could benefit greatly from their presence. Also, by allowing them into our country, we are refusing to allow ISIS and other terrorist organizations destroy people’s lives.
“Many of these refugees are fleeing the same terrorists who threaten us. It would be a cruel irony indeed if ISIS can force families from their homes and then also prevent them from finding new ones,” said Hillary Clinton in a speech about National Security.
Most importantly, our country should be one that displays courage and justice for all. When seeing people dying in their home country, we should not force them to return to the place that they are doomed to be abused, and even killed, by their own government. If Americans want to speak proudly of their country’s values, then they must also be willing to stand firmly with those beliefs, even in the face of fear.