Over the last four years, 4 million Syrian refugees fled to neighbouring countries and found themselves subject to the hardships of poverty. The United Nations urged the world to take this issue seriously, but the world remained relatively silent until recently.
This week at the United Nations General Assembly António Guterres, the UN high commissioner for refugees, found himself flooded with requests to meet and discuss the ongoing refugee crisis from some of the world’s most powerful countries.
Little has changed in the refugee crisis according to Guterres, “except refugees came to rich countries.” The crisis that was formerly limited to Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon has now made its way into Europe.
This latest rush of immigrants into Europe, in combination with a fear of ISIS fighters making their way across European boarders and carrying out attacks, has created a new urgency for Western leaders to do something about the war in Syria.
Political settlement in Syria, a feat believed highly improbable just a few short months ago, was the centerpiece of conversation at this week’s lunch between Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the foreign ministers of the five permanent Security Council members.
“I have personally the impression we are waking up to this now because this refugee problem is more visible today to Western eyes,” European Union foreign minister Federica Mogherini stated. With this new attention and urgency on the refugee crisis, Mogherini hopes that new, creative solutions for political settlement in Syria will come to light.
The newfound attention has had a somewhat positive effect on the crisis. On Tuesday night, the German foreign minister was able to gain support from some of the world’s richest countries and gather $1.8 billion for the United Nations to use to support the countries sheltering the majority of the Syrian refugees.
However, the crisis is far from over. This year alone 500,000 refugees and migrants have crossed the Mediterranean Sea into Europe according to the International Organization for Migration.
While the United Nations is doing what it can to help the Syrian refugees, there are other refugees in the world that need their help too, such as those fleeing the Central African Republic. The difference? This refugee problem is far away from Europe and does not pose a terrorist threat to the European people. There will be no additional Western aid to help these refugees.
The Syrian refugee crisis has seen the largest number of displaced peoples since World War II.