The Issue of Syrian Refugees
Syrian refugees gather around a small fire to get warm in a camp located in the village of Sumakieh in north Lebanon, just a few hundred meters from the Lebanese-Syrian border, on January 31, 2022. (Marwan Naamani/picture alliance via Getty Images)

The Issue of Syrian Refugees

Al-Ittihad, UAE, September 22

It was natural for Turkey to open its doors to Syrian refugees who fled the war in search of safety. As Syria’s closest neighbor, which shares hundreds of years of cultural and religious history with its neighbor to the south, Turkey was an obvious safe haven for many Syrian migrants. The Turks welcomed the Syrians with open arms, but the refugees may have overstayed their welcome. Today, there is clear hope that they will return to their country. The number of Syrian refugees in Turkey exceeds four million individuals. The situation in Turkey is different from the situation in other countries like Egypt, for example. The Syrians in Egypt are not refugees, but rather live with their Egyptian families. They migrated to Egypt over many years, and the history of mutual migration between the two countries is long. The same is true in Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq. In Saudi Arabia and the Arab Gulf, the Syrians have lived for decades, in addition to a long history that dates back to the migrations of Arab tribes. Thousands of Syrians have traveled to the Arab Gulf states since the ‘50s of the last century, and this is what made the presence of Syrians coming to these countries after the outbreak of the Syrian war a normal and familiar matter, as they were received not as so-called “refugees,” but rather as residents. Therefore, not a single tent has been set up or a Syrian refugee camp has been established in Saudi Arabia, Egypt or any Gulf state. The Syrians do not forget the great support provided to them by the brotherly Gulf states, especially in the field of relief and humanitarian aid. The Syrians also don’t forget the hospitality they received from many Europeans, who received hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees, provided them with housing, salaries, health care and education. Many European states granted Syrians citizenship. They found in them, in addition to the humanitarian dimension, a qualified economic workforce that could boost and power their aging economies. The Syrians have spread to all parts of the world. Today, there are more than 13 million Syrian refugees worldwide, in addition to those displaced within Syria itself, who left their cities, villages and residences and gathered in northern Syria. This group numbers around four million individuals. The entire world is talking about the return of refugees, and their tragedy has become one of the greatest tragedies facing humanity today. Yet their return requires appropriate conditions and infrastructure, such as homes, schools, hospitals and government services. All of these were destroyed during the bloody years of war. Reconstruction requires a lot of money, great effort and stability. None of these will be available properly until after implementing the solution advocated for by the United Nations for a permanent cease-fire in Syria. The Syrians resented the calls of some Lebanese people for the refugees to leave Lebanon, because they ignored the fact that the migration of Syrians into Lebanon was mainly a product of Hizbullah’s entry into Syria, and the role it played in killing Syrians, demolishing their homes and expelling them from their towns. They cannot return to their country unless Hizbullah withdraws its forces from Syria. These Lebanese voices also can’t ignore the fact that the refugees didn’t impose a considerable burden on the Lebanese government, since the United Nations provides aid to the refugees and because most Syrian refugees are working. – Riad Naasan Agha (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)

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