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Understanding the Refugee Crisis and Its Impact

Back in September of 2015, the Syrian refugee crisis took center stage in the world's awareness when the body of a cute three-year old, Aylan Kurdi, washed ashore lifeless after he drowned in the Mediterranean Sea while trying to escape the violence and devastation that President Bashar al-Assad has been unleashing on his own people since 2011. Terrorist organizations such as ISIL are also responsible for a significant amount of the death and destruction, but it's Assad who manages to fly below the radar of consciousness while being responsible for most of the devastation.

As of today, around a quarter of a million people have been killed in Syria (two-thirds of them civilians; 13,000 of them children). This is an incredibly complex issue, with lots of moving parts, plenty of blame to go around, many conflicting interests and power struggles, and lots of points for possible interventions, but it would greatly help to get straight on the facts, one of which is the all-too-important distinction between 'migrant' and 'refugee' status, as John Green does in the following video:

There are those who callously claim that Syrians need to 'go back home' so they can solve their own problems instead of asking for 'handouts.' What such facile and inhumane statements ignore is the fact that 'home' for many Syrians just doesn't exist any longer: their cities and towns have been obliterated into a huge wasteland of rubble where the violence continues to expand, rendering the thousands of buildings that have not been completely pulverized into death traps that could collapse at any moment. But why take my word for it when you can see the destruction with your own eyes?

And here is John Oliver on the way that hateful groups have been using racist and zenophobic language to dehumanize these poor people in their time of need:

These people need our compassion, not our indifference or our hate...

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