Syrian Refugees: Their Journey of Persecution

Grace Herdelin, Staff Writer

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Among history’s greatest atrocities now stands the Syrian Civil War. Beginning in 2011, the Syrian government, led by President Bashar Al-Assad (بشارالأسد), has used all of its power to force its citizens into submission, as they have been protesting their government for years. This conflict quickly escalated into extreme violence involving multiple militant groups including the Free Syrian Army, the Islamic Front, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, and eventually Hezbollah. The intense violence surrounding the people of Syria, most of them innocent bystanders, yearned to flee their homeland to avoid becoming collateral damage.

Those fleeing Syria are ordinary people who were caught up in a conflict out of their own control, and suddenly they became refugees. Most of them never expected this to be how they would live one day, and none of them wanted this life for themselves. Forced to endure treacherous journeys with unsanitary conditions, the struggles the refugees experience do not end when they arrive in their safe haven. Faced with discrimination from both those around them and from the governments that should be protecting them, refugees are often forced to work menial jobs for incredibly low wages in order to feed themselves and their families. As many conservative political parties feel that refugees are taking away things from the proper citizens of a given country, the stigma surrounding being a refugee comes not only from self-consciousness, but from discrimination from those around them.

In reality, having refugees enter one’s country will have little effect on the everyday lives of its citizens. There are social services provided by various NGOs that help the refugees find places to live, learn the language of the country they are in, and get employed. One of such places is the Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians, an immigrant aid center that helps ease the transition into American lifestyle. With organizations like these, refugees will be able to participate actively in their host country’s society, economy, and working world.

The developed countries of the world have a responsibility to care for these impoverished peoples who have no way of defending themselves against their oppressive governments. Being a country largely made up of immigrants who once came searching for a better life, the United States is especially responsible for caring for any refugees that may come its way. As the Statue of Liberty reads, a universally known symbol of freedom and liberty, America welcomes the people who are denied by the rest of the world in a poem written by Emma Lazarus:

“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.” (Lazarus 1).

The Syrian refugees certainly fit the description Lazarus articulates in her poem, “the New Colossus”, immortalized on the Statue of Liberty. The Statue of Liberty should serve as a reminder of America’s welcoming spirit towards those wishing to improve their lives, particularly in this time where it seems people have lost sight of it. If Lady Liberty can welcome these people, should not the rest of the world?

“Emma Lazarus; Famous Poem: “The New Colossus”” Welcome to Liberty State Park, The Statue of Liberty, and Ellis Island. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Oct. 2015.

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Syrian Refugees: Their Journey of Persecution