The Refugee Crisis

Europe is currently facing an unprecedented migrant crisis. Over 1 million newcomers entered Germany in 2015, roughly 40% of them from Syria. In the Fall of 2015, about 10,000 refugees and asylum seekers entered Germany daily. The January 2016 figures reflected about 3,000 daily, a reduction that can be attributed to the  winter climate.

Syrian Refugee Boat

In comparison, as of November 2015, the US had admitted less than 3,000 Syrians, in total since 2011!

Following president Obama’s proposal to admit an additional 10,000 Syrians, there was a tremendous outcry of disapproval, even here in Massachusetts.

Why do people leave their home countries? Unequal global income and wealth distribution, and the subsequent search for better economic living conditions, are both major influences.

However, economic incentives are not the primary motivators driving the Syrian refugee crisis. Syrians are forced to leave their home country to avoid pervasive violence. Since 2011, the nation has served as the main battleground for a raging sectarian conflict, further fueled by outsiders contributing fighters and weapons.

The Damage

By now, the conflict has left over 250,000 Syrians dead, many of them soldiers, about 1.5 million wounded, over 6.6 million internally displaced, and over 4.6 million Syrians seeking refuge in other countries.

Shell Shocked Girl

Unfortunately, our own country is a major contributor to this global catastrophe. The US government has been working to ‘destabilize’ Syria since “early 2012,” which was formulated as a policy goal in 2001.

Destruction of Antiquities

The current war in Syria, in addition to causing a tremendous humanitarian disaster for the many ethnic groups of Syria who had previously lived in relative harmony at a relatively high level of economic development, also causes irreparable damage to the cultural and archaeological heritage of all of humankind present in Syria’s part of the “Cradle of Civilization.”

Escalation and Geopolitical Risks

If the confrontation between Turkey, a member state of NATO, and Russia escalates, there is a considerable risk that the Syrian conflict conflict will turn nuclear! The potential for conflict between Russia and Saudi Arabia, or Russia and Israel “crossing paths” in Syria, only compounds this risk.

Russian Fighter

Massachusetts Peace Action Policy Positions

  • End the illegal bombing of Syria by the US and its allies; stop all military and financial support for rebel groups.
  • Stop all arms shipments to the region; pressure US allies, especially Turkey and the Gulf States, to halt their funding and arming of opposition factions within Syria.
  • Support diplomatic efforts — including those with Russia and Iran — conforming with International Law and the UN Charter to stop the fighting and advance a peaceful solution for Syria.
  • Increase funding for refugee relief, humanitarian aid, and economic development, preferably through UN agencies.
  • Give Syrians agency and autonomy to shape the future of their nation; drop any preconditions for talks, for example, that Syrian president Assad “has to go.”
  • Support, in principle, an outcome that protects the rights and safety of all Syrians, including women and ethnic/religious minorities.

Massachusetts Peace Action also supports critical legislation, such as:

  • H.R.4108, introduced by Representative Tulsi Gabbard (HI-2) in order to ” prohibit the use of funds for the provision of assistance to Syrian opposition groups and individuals,” which is designed to“end the illegal U.S. war to overthrow the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad.”
  • S.R.361 which “urges robust funding of the USA” to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees  “to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Syria and in Syrian refugee-hosting countries in the region and to be able to address the short- and long-term humanitarian needs of the Syrian people.”

Last modified March 10, 2016.