By LAINEY LOUDON
Since the start of the Syrian Civil War in 2011, almost 12 million people, or half of the population of Syria, have been displaced; 7.6 million of those within the country itself. Half of all Syrian refugees are under the age of 18, according to the United Nations.
Syrian refugees are paying smugglers anywhere from $1,000 to $4,500 U.S.per person to escape by boat or raft across the Mediterranean Sea to Greece. Others trek by foot to neighboring countries, including Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, and Iraq. According to the United Nations Refugee Agency, Turkey has accommodated the most refugees, at almost two million people.
A Syrian student at the University of Tampa, who prefers to remain anonymous for his own privacy, has experienced this event firsthand. Though he has not been to Syria since 2013, he has many family members and friends who have fled from the country.
“They are running from death,” says the source, “it’s a good bargain not to die instead of saving money.”
Thousands of people are selling their houses and belongings in order to obtain enough money so they can escape the chaos, bringing little, if any personal belongings with them.
“The only people who are still there don’t have the money to leave,” said the Syrian UT student, “they want to leave, but they cannot pay.”
Some refugees crossing into neighboring countries are being detained by police. Trains carrying migrants are also being stopped and returned. Many countries neighboring Syria cannot accommodate the thousands of people who want to enter their country, so they are closing the borders.
“Saudi Arabia closed all kinds of visas for Syrians,” said the Syrian student, “this country claims to be an Arab country, they claim to be my brothers, but I can’t go there. They don’t want to have us.”
Other migrants do not even make it because of razor wire fences, tear gas, water cannons and force used by border police.
“It is miserable there,” said the source.
The source also says that the demographical change is hard for the refugees. “They are losing their identity and they don’t want that,” said the source.
The U.S. assists roughly 6.6 million suffering Syrians per month, providing them with food, water, healthcare, and other basic necessities.
In 2015, the U.S. expects to admit a total of 70,000 refugees from all around the world, and by the end of September, the U.S. plans to take in 1,500 Syrian refugees. President Obama has made a pledge to accept a minimum of 10,000 Syrian refugees within the next fiscal year.
Refugees from Syria can apply for Temporary Protected Status, but the source said that to the Syrian people, this is not enough.
“I can’t build a dream on TPS,” said the source, “it’s temporary, and this war is going to last forever.”
The source also claimed that some countries are reporting that they are hosting more Syrians than are actually present.
“Some countries say, ‘I have 200,000 refugees in my country,’ but they are not in the country,” said the source, “they just forced them to get their fingerprints taken.”
“When they [refugees] arrive in the [first] country, the government makes them stay for at least 10 days. They know that they are going to buy food and they are going to buy clothes. It is good for the economy,” said the source, “that’s why they force them to wait. These people are not leaving Syria to go to Hungary or Greece; they are going to main countries: Germany, Sweden, and England. England is a dream for them.”
The source’s brother left Syria this week and made it all the way to Germany.
Lainey Loudon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org