The Syrian Refugee Crisis: Europe Faces a Test of Values

Brian Savage, Staff Writer '18

Across the deserts of Northern Africa, new makeshift villages rise from the sand every day. The residents are a weary and downtrodden lot, all fleeing a lethal mix of rogue dictators, radical Islamists, and western-backed rebels. Across the Mediterranean, European governments jump to assumptions about the migrants, and the chaos in the region as a whole. The refugees find some hope in the small municipalities that have opened their borders, but not much.

The migrant crisis today can be largely traced back to the torrent of civil and domestic unrest unleashed with the Arab Spring. The people of the Middle East defected against the totalitarian caliphates and dynasties of the Arabian Bloc. Today, Syria’s government is one of the last regimes to hold out against rebel efforts. Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian President, has deployed and funded forces, ISIS being one, to eradicate revolutionaries. The regime has used mass executions, chemical warfare, and repeated violence on citizens to keep power. The Ba’ath Party, a group supporting the toppling of the al-Assad administration, is the leading effort, and even they are looking to gain ultimate control, highlighting the complexity of the situation on the ground.

Amid the gunfire are the citizens, who pursue an escape from constant conflict. Approximately 4 million refugees are emigrating to bordering nations like Turkey, Iraq, and Jordan, amid concerns about a lack of funding and space to house and properly care for this sudden influx of refugees. The conditions of the camps are not much better than the war torn towns back in Syria. Most sought asylum in Europe, but were held up by a longstanding European Union policy known as the Dublin Regulation. The provision forces all refugees to stay in the European nation they first arrived in, and therefore, are constricted to the bordering countries of the Mediterranean. Germany is arranging to accept 800,000 refugees, with the European Union, agreeing to another 600,000.

Certain groups insist the EU should state a quota for each nation dividing the refugees across the entire landscape of Europe.  No one is sure of an exact solution to this developing crisis. Some agree with the current process of locking the borders, isolating the distant travelers, dismantling their treks for hope, and rejecting a solution for all; others see this crisis for what it is: a moral test for Europe. History will no doubt remember how the continent acts in these critical moments.