Syrians Stuck Between Iraq and A Hard Place

Syria is embroiled in a tragic sequence of halves: half of its war casualties have been civilian; half of its population is displaced; half of its refugees are children. Millions of Syrians have jumped to bordering countries, overloading Turkey and Lebanon, while others look to start anew in the western world.

Four million refugees have already escaped Syria’s borders, forced to travel long distances on foot. I know what you’re thinking – why don’t they just call an Uber XXXXXXL (it’s a black freight ship)? Reasonable question. Honestly, it’s just that Uber is imposing one of those periods of surge pricing, and that’s super annoying. Plus, they charge you for splitting the cost, and who wants to deal with that? It’s just easier to walk. It’s just a few thousand miles down the road.

Over 50,000 refugees and migrants arrived in Greece in July alone, many with nothing but the clothes on their backs. Angry Greeks have complained to their government. “No fair! How come they get clothes on their backs?” While Greece has taken many, the lion’s share of the displaced in Europe will be absorbed by Germany, which expects to bring in 800,000 by the end of the year. One refugee, Mohammed Alkilany, notes that for refugees, “Germany is the best in Europe…in Germany you can learn the language for free.” That’s cool that you can learn German for free, Mohammed, but should you? The language kind of sounds like a JFK speech played in reverse.

As Europe overflows with refugees, some Americans believe it’s our turn to step up to the plate, and Obama has raised our refugee admittance rate to 85,000 in 2016. Others disagree. Ted Cruz argued, “It would be the height of foolishness to bring in tens of thousands of people, including Jihadists.” Donald Trump has noted that, if he is elected, he will send the refugees back. Because apparently you can do that now. You can say, “excuse me, Syria? I noticed a hair in my refugees and, I’m sorry, but I have to send them back. I know, I know, I’m being that guy. I’m just a bit of a germaphobe and, you know…I’m the customer. By the way, do you have room for 12 million Mexicans?”

For many reasons, including the myriad separate forces jostling for power in Syria and the disjoint goals of Obama and Putin, the light at the end of the tunnel for Syrians is dim and distant. If you’re looking to help, consider the last in Syria’s series of halves – of the U.N.’s 6.5 billion dollar appeal in 2014 to deal with the crisis, less than 50% was funded.