A few words on refugees

I am getting tired of re-reading the same comments and lies about the Paris attacks and the refugees who have been forced to leave their lives in Syria. They are people who have had their lives destroyed and are trying to survive by moving to countries that do not share their long history or culture. No one wants to leave their home and Damascus, the capital of Syria, is considered one of the oldest continuously populated cities in the world, a history measured in as many thousands of years, predating European settlement of the Americas by a factor of 10.

Let’s get the most popular one first. Most of the Paris attackers were either French or Belgian. Current thinking has the attacks being planned by a Syrian who still lives in that country. One is believed to have passed through Greece posing as a refugee, and one carried a fake Syrian passport and is of unknown origin.

The danger is not refugees, it is radicalized people living here now.

It is important to remember that the Mediterranean countries in the EU have been overwhelmed with hundreds of thousands out of the millions displaced in the Syrian civil war. Any entries into North America will be through water or air ports, funneling refugees through smaller and fewer points of entry. We will be dealing with numbers in the 10s of thousands. It is not the same problem at all.

Another of the recurring lies is the demographics of the refugees. I am constantly reading that the refugees are primarily young men. It doesn’t take much research to debunk that.

According to the UN Refugee Agency, on Nov 16, 2015 the demographic breakdown of the 4,289,792 refugees is as follows.

Total Male (49.7%) Age (50.3%) Female

Age 0-4 Male 8.9% Female 8.4%
Age 5-11 Male 10.8% Female 10.3%
Age 12-17 Male 6.6% Female 6.2%
Age 18-59 Male 22.1% Female 23.7%
Age 60+ Male 1.3% Female 1.7%

The next thing that pops up is the fact that the rest of the Gulf states are not accepting refugees. This is actually a valid concern, with most of the reasons given sounding more like excuses.

“Kuwait and the Gulf states are expensive countries that aren’t suitable for refugees to live in,” [Fahd al-Shelaimi of Kuwait] said. “They’re suitable for workers. Life in Lebanon and Turkey is cheaper, and the money paid the refugees will go much farther there. Moreover, you can’t accept people from a different cultural environment. They include people with psychological problems, with nervous diseases or traumas; you can’t bring them into [our] societies.”

…Some use the security pretext: These countries are fighting terror at home and fear that Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL) operatives or other terrorists might infiltrate with the refugees.

Others argue that Syrians must be kept in or near their own country so they don’t become a nation of refugees, like the Palestinians.

Other excuses are based on cultural and religious differences, even if those differences might be considered less than the differences between Syrian and Western cultures.

Beyond the lack of aid the Gulf nations, there are also the desires of the refugees themselves.

Mansour Hadi, [a Syrian refugee living in Turkey] once a senior technician at a company in Aleppo, found a decent job in Turkey and hopes to build his future there.
“Perhaps I might have emigrated to Germany or Sweden, but I wouldn’t have gone to Saudi Arabia or Qatar,” he said. “They are different Arabs. They’re not like us. It’s a closed, conservative, extremely religious and arrogant society. I have no reason to be there.”

This is what they are leaving behind – their homes

Source unknown

And where they are now.

Zaatari camp in Jordan, home to 130,000 refugees [AP]

 These are people we need to help, not people we should fear.

Is it possible that some minuscule percentage of these refugees will be extremists? Of course it is. However, it is a certainty that once they are here, they will face violence and bigotry from us. Violence that is encouraged by those of us who perpetuate lies and promote fear. This bigotry will be the force that drives the alienation of newcomers.

I want to be  better than that.

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