As I read the numerous articles appearing in the news and view the videos that over flood social media , I am completely dismayed by the circumstances the people of the Middle East are facing. Mainly I consider the innocent youth who are victims of adult decisions. The video of the father holding his child and being tripped by the reporter has left me uneasy:
The expressions on the child’s face, the fear in his tears and the chaos surrounding him allows me to view the situation differently.
I could not help but put myself in the shoes of that child who is unsure why all this is happening. Cameras caught this family in the middle of their journey, we catch them crossing the border; we do not see what they have overcome prior to, we do not fully comprehend the conditions they are running from. This is why it is even more moving for me. We do not know, we can’t imagine, and since it is not what we are going through we brush it to the side. The harsh reality of the situation is that one day it could be us, so let’s respond how we would want to be treated.
Now that Hungary has secured their borders on Tuesday, the route for many refugees has changed. Since the goal destination for many refugees is Germany; many refugees decided to pass through Hungary, but Hungary is determined to keep refugees from passing through and on Wednesday Hungary used tear gas and water cannons on a group of refugees who broke through the border. Hungary has encouraged refugees to apply for asylum, but the first set of applicants were denied and expressed frustration because they believed they were not given a worthy assessment.
European lawmakers have backed up a plan to alleviate the pressures from Italy, Greece and Hungary. The plan is to take responsibility for accepting 120,000 refugees and sharing that responsibility between the nations that are a part of the EU. The plan still needs to be approved by a handful of Eastern European nations who are opposing the plan; the EU interior ministers are scheduled to meet in Brussels next Tuesday to reach a final decision.
Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen says Denmark would be on “a voluntarily basis” willing to take 1,000 refugees “in the light of the extraordinary situation” but does not agree with any mandatory European Union quota to relocate the tens of thousands of migrants pouring into Europe. Denmark like Britain and Ireland are not legally bound to partake in the EU plan to relocate refugees but Rasmussen has agreed to meet with EU Commission Chief Jean-Claude Juncker in Brussels and the country has earmarked $113 million over the next years to help refugees, but did not mention how the money would be used.
Since Germany is welcoming the refugees with open arms many refugees are not discouraged by the setbacks, but seem to be motivated by the end goal. Consequently, many have decided to pass through Croatia instead. Zoran Milanović said that Hungary’s razor fences sent a “terrible message” and that Croatia is committed to helping these refugees reach Western Europe. Croatia stated that 8,900 refugees have arrived in the past two days since Hungary clamped down on their borders and authorities have been using trains and buses to transport refugees to refugee centers. Croatia’s leadership understands that the refugees do not want to settle within the country, but that their aim is to reach Germany so they are willing to allow for the refugees to pass through for that reason. However, the country does recognize the possible worst case scenario, that there will be an intense wave of refugees which at that point, they have mentioned, that other solutions will have to be considered.
France has agreed to accept 24,000 of the 120,000 new refugees the EU is seeking to allocate among members on a quota basis, allocating more than 600 million euros ($677 million) to the new arrivals. French authorities cleared more than 500 refugees from two makeshift camps in Paris on Thursday, moving them to temporary homes, local media said.
EU Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans said the refugee emergency challenges Europe “on a political level, on a humanitarian level and I would even say on a moral level.” Demitrius Avramopoulos, EU commissioner said “the majority of people arriving in Europe are Syrians. They are people in genuine need of our protections. There is no wall you would not climb, no sea you wouldn’t cross if you are fleeing violence and terror. I believe we have a moral duty (to) offer them protection.” At this point the EU is facing an extreme division and are challenged by the situation at hand.
The United States has plans to accept only 10,000, which is a step up from the original 8,000 limit. Many organizations are disappointed in this number and believe the United States could do more. There is a petition to accept about 65,000 refugees; there are 78,776 signatures and 21,224 needed. Google has pledged to match up 5.5 million in donations this will go toward the support and deliverance of essentials (the links are below). Donors who want Google to match their donation can give their money to one of four groups: The International Rescue Committee, Doctors Without Borders, U.N. High Commission for Refugees, or Save The Children. Interestingly, when Americans were surveyed many expressed the desire to provide financial assistance before agreeing to allow refugees cross the borders.
So what does this all mean for you and me? To be honest, I am not sure, the issue really does not affect us, our lives have not changed but does that mean we should ignore it? My thoughts are that if we do ignore it for too long, then we may see severe consequence that we are not expecting.
As the coordinator of the International Services department of the American Red Cross Greater Cincinnati-Dayton region I am planning to host in collaboration with Catholic Charities a listening forum to discuss as a community what we aim to do. I am preparing to accept more volunteers to do casework for possible restoring family link cases; a service refugee families can use if they are trying to locate a family member that they have lost contact with due to the calamity. We also offer referrals to other helpful services in the community. However, after that I do not know what my role is in all this other than donating money and bring awareness to the situation. This makes me feel powerless and so I write- to educate myself while educating others. I write about issues that move me and seemed to be ignored by the large masses that are distracted. I want us all not to run away because we feel we can’t make a difference but to put our heads together to decide on a solution; so this time I want to hear your opinions, if you have one. From what you heard, read and in comparison to what other countries are doing, are we as Americans doing all that we can? Would you rather donate money than to sign a petition to accept more refugees? I want to hear your thoughts about this issue and if you know of any powerful videos or articles. If you are still learning, I encourage you to start with videos to visualize the conditions the refugees are facing, ask questions, and talk with Syrians here if you can. I also encourage you, if you are in Cincinnati, to attend the Syrian listening forum at the Red Cross chapter in Cincinnati, OH October 28th from 6:00-7:30 pm to learn from professionals working closely within the crisis to hear solutions, their testimonies, and learn of services available for refugees in Cincinnati.
The situation is finally receiving the coverage it deserves and now we all just have to continue making small strides; doing what we can and learning as much as we can.
Written by: Kayla Iheukwu, Coordinator of the International Services department of the American Red Cross Greater Cincinnati-Dayton region. Article taken from: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/tell-me-your-thoughts-current-refugee-dilemma-kayla-iheukwu?trk=prof-post.
Greater Cincinnati World Affairs Council does not own or claim to own these photos.