Protests, such as this one in Erbeen, reflect the crisis being experienced in the region. (FreedomHouse / Creative Commons)
Ongoing hardships in Syria continue to drive many refugees from the country to instead migrate to other countries.
Much of the hardships derive from an ongoing civil war between the government of President Bashar al-Assad, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
Mike Petri, professor of social sciences and author of The Middle East: History, Culture, & Politics, 1st Edition, explains this war has been devastating.
“In a nutshell, the civil war that began in March 2011, has displaced over four million refugees across the Middle East, Europe, and parts of Asia along with an additional 12 million internally displaced. The majority of the refugees began to leave in 2013.”
The war’s led to even worse problems Petri says.
“The prolonged conflict has led to the deterioration of economic and living conditions, such as the lack of security and basic goods and services (housing, food, water, medical treatment, etc.). Efforts to provide aid to the Syrian people from the Global community is being blocked by all factions, thus increasing human suffering.”
As a result, millions still continue to abandon their homes to escape the region. According to a recent U.N. Refugee Agency report approximately 4.1 million people have been recorded as having fled their homes.
Many of the refugees has sought asylum in neighboring countries such as Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq and Jordan. The after mentioned U.N. Refugee Agency report says that the nation of Turkey’s hosts the most migrants of any country; approximately 1.9 million.
Migrants have also fled to more distant countries such as those in the Caucasus, the Persian Gulf, North Africa and Europe. The latter has in recent years seen the most migrant activity with Another U.N. Refugee Agency report estimating that about 381,000 have arrived in Europe seeking asylum.
Petri says this is owed chiefly due to how geographically attractive it is to refugees.
“One can see in reviewing the map of the region, how a land path to Europe from the Middle East runs through Turkey and Northeastern Greece. Once they enter Bulgaria, Macedonia, and Albania to Serbia, the first European Union (EU) member nations they reach are Hungary and Croatia.”
Reaction from European countries has been mixed. Germany has said it expects to take approximately one million refugees in according to its vice chancellor Sigmar Gabriel.
In contrast, Hungary remains the most vehement in opposition to the migration of refugees. The government has been criticized by the United Nations and human rights groups for using tear gas, pepper spray and water cannons to hold back immigrants.
“When reviewing the history of humanity,” Petri says “Part of our core nature is to immigrate whenever our current living conditions are unsustainable. Europe has a history of groups coming and staying, but it is generally human nature to dislike rapid change.”
Petri also says those who are within the country of Syria face great hardship should they stay in Syria.
“Within Syria over 12 million displaced individuals are in desperate need of these basic services, goods, and assistance, with an estimated 5.6 million being children.”