Yesterday, I attended a lecture regarding the Syrian Refugee Crisis, where we were shown a short documentary, and then were able to hear from several experts on the subject. The film showed officials in Greece going out and rescuing refugees that were smuggled across the ocean. The film blew my mind as I was not aware of the treacherous conditions that the refugees have to endure in order to escape.
Dr. Smith was the first expert to speak. He caught my attention when he said that the documentary “powerfully humanizes the refugee situation in a world where we are scared of a threat to our own security.” This statement to me summed up the whole purpose of the documentary, which was great. He also mentioned that Germany has experienced a lot of criticism for opening their borders and accepting refugees. I learned that there are many countries accepting refugees–in Sweden as many as 160,000 refugees live in the country which, in terms of US population translates to 5 million.
Dr. Raymond spoke on the historical perspective of the crisis. He stated that migration has always occurred and that the idea of closing and protecting country borders is a relatively new idea. He also defined what a refugee is based on the 1951 Refugee Convention. Dr. Raymond said that a refugee is someone outside of their own country and cannot return due to a well founded fear of persecution due to race, religion, gender, etc. Because of the definition, there are 21.3 million refugees in the world, but there are 65 million internally displaced people. This was mind blowing to me, as we seem to only be helping the technical refugees, which means the majority of the problem is not being addressed.
Overall, I found this lecture to be very mind blowing and eye opening. It made me want to help with the crisis and made me realize that we need to be doing more.