Note: This article will be a topic explanation only. No analysis will be provided.
Origins: The Syrian Civil War
Arab Spring swept the Middle East in 2011, and Syrian protestors took to the streets to voice opposition to Bashar al-Assad’s authoritarian government. Assad’s security forces opened fire on the protestors during their initial gathering. Rebel forces began to organize, and military defectors formed the Free Syrian Army; many civilians joined this fighting force. The Syrian government and the rebels have been trading fire ever since (the government notably used sarin gas against residential neighborhoods, killing thousands to the outrage of the world community). The war is estimated to have killed at least 200,000 people.
Bombings have leveled cities, and basic necessities such as food and health care are hard to come by. Thousands of Syrians flee the country every day, spilling into neighboring countries such as Iraq and Turkey, whose governments are already feeling the strain of millions of refugees. 7.1 million Syrians are internally displaced, while an estimated 4 million have fled Syria.
The Refugee Crisis as it Stands Today: International Response
Other than financial burden (taking in about 800,000 migrants by the end of 2015 is estimated to cost Germany over 11 billion dollars), one of the biggest trepidations of foreign governments in accepting Syrian refugees is the infiltration of ISIS, which has developed a strong presence in Syria. Nevertheless, many countries in the EU (notably Germany and Switzerland) have opened their borders to fleeing Syrians in response to quotas set by the governing body. An ocean away, the United States, while without a quota on the number it will accept, will help to ease Europe’s burden by accepting around 25,000 refugees.