Those were the days, the good old days as my father called them. A time most remembered when carefree summer days really seemed to never end. The endless summers of long ago have now morphed into a somber realization that time does not stand still. As this past summer not so quietly enters into a sober fall where the flow of humanity is being ripped apart the setting of the summer sun brings one to tears of sorrow and remorse. The suffering and misery of so many millions in the tragedy of our times continues to push the world toward a disastrous fate.
It has been so many years since when the world seemed like mankind was starting to find it’s way. But, somewhere along the line those intentions for good gave way to the onslaught of horror we are seeing today. That fleeting moment in a not so distant past where goodness and compassion dictated many of America’s policies have now given way to the factions that today are in play. The outcome of this human tragedy has yet to be told. But, if the turmoil in Libya and Syria continue to unfold the human tragedy is going to be far greater than anyone can imagine. We are all should be mindful that it was just about a century ago that history was being written in blood and tears when mankind witnessed so much horror of the First and Second World War. For over those thirty years of bloodshed, misery and woe we would have thought by now mankind would have learned how to peacefully coexist. And, yet history is still being written by the evil intentions of man. The allure for power, control and wealth which has dominated man’s actions since the beginning of time continues to thrust humanity down into the abyss.
The repetitive nature humanity still possesses continues to ignite the world in flames of hopelessness, and despair. The terror unleashed in this period in time has spread far and wide. It is the selfishness of man that continues to keep the embers of hate burning bright. We see it here in the United States where tensions abound. Another real tragedy though is half a world away where today’s trek of so many refugees one could arguably say is very reminiscent to the trail of tears of the American Indians, the refugees fleeing Poland and Germany in the late 1930’s, and the horror of the Batan Death March of 1942.
Questions have to be asked considering the magnitude of this refugee crisis. Questions that will lead to solutions to mitigate the after effects of years of civil war amidst untold terror. It was just about four years ago that Egypt became the catalyst where chaos, rebellion, distention, and anarchy all erupted into what is now called the beginning of the Arab Spring. Egypt, at that time seemed like a pretty stable country. But, inner factions were already in play where a firestorm of frustration among the populace had been brewing for quite some time. It finally boiled over into a tempest of a harsh reality. A harsh reality where the whole Middle East actually was a powder keg of raw emotions that was poised to explode.
Fortunate we were in the United States for the feeling of a frustrated public during and after the financial crisis of 2008 could have erupted into a much worse scenario. We must remember where there is lost opportunities for a better life, oppression of a free will, and stagnation of a society are the main ingredients for future rebellion. In 2011 Egypt all these factors came together like a tsunami rushing over the entire country. This powder keg of despair by so many impoverished was now poised to ignite the wrath of populations through-out the whole region.
What mankind is witness to now is that all through-out the Mid-East and around the Mediterranean where so much carnage, lawlessness and terror has been unleashed millions already have fled their native homelands in desperation searching for that safe haven. Any country that would provide sanctuary. With many countries where once their boarders were closed have begun to actually see the horror that has unfolded. Multitudes that have been fleeing for their very lives have made many countries now realize that humanitarian needs are the ones that matter most.
With so many multitudes fleeing, escaping the stench of war have now made some countries open their boarders. So far more than 380,000 people have crossed the Mediterranean this year alone in search of finding that safe haven. Many have made it to Greece while thousands more have only perished in their attempt to escape the wrath of war, famine and hate. The scenes of horror, destruction and plight where the terror is constant every day and night the cries of the fleeing people are just now being heard. Thousands of people, these refugees, continue to struggle making their way. Many walk for days only to be tear-gassed and beaten at certain borders. Many are crammed into trains and trucks like cattle as they try to make their way out of so much misery and decay. And, the numbers keep on growing.
One can not help wonder considering Europe’s recent past, now at the epicenter of this unfolding human travesty how this humanitarian crisis evolved? Today, more than 19 million people have been forced to flee their home countries because of war, persecution, and oppression. The numbers keep growing by more than 50,000 fleeing every day. Many, of them have already landed in Europe. With Europe’s current economic crisis that crisis is now even more exasperated by growing humanitarian needs.
What has compounded this crisis is the fact that from years of war has forced millions from their homes especially in the Middle-East, and sub Saharan Africa. This forced migration has now opened a previously closed route into Europe. It has been for a long time the anti refugee policies of the West including the US and other wealthier countries that are best suited to handle the influx of many refugees don’t. It is the insecurity of the leaders of Western countries that are fearful over the effects of immigration. This, along with being preoccupied with vague long held ideas about their national identity. An identity that are still driving nativist populist politics which has only contributed to this humanitarian crisis of the 21st century. The result is that at a time when more people than ever need help, wealthy countries are more reluctant to help. This reluctance has put thousands or millions of innocent refugee families in danger.
Many have speculated that the Arab Spring that started in Egypt, spread to Syria, and spurred the downfall of Muammar Gaddafi the after effects have left Libya and the Mid-East in a complete state of chaos. After all it was the United States and our allies that instigated and through military intervention helped create the instability that we are witnessing today. Meanwhile in Syria the continued civil war and the rise of ISIS have made it impossible to have any kind of stability where the Syrian people would be able to get on with their lives. Hence, the mass forced migration to safe havens where they will go to any extreme to escape the brutal terror that continues to ruin a once stable nation.
The biggest contributor of the humanitarian crisis is Syria. Over four million people, nearly a fifth of Syria’s population, have fled the country since the war began in 2011. And, it’s not hard to understand why Syrians are fleeing. The Assad’s regime has targeted their own civilians with chemical weapons and barrel bombs. Not only that ISIS has subjected Syrians to murder, torture, crucifixion, sexual slavery, and other appalling atrocities. More terrorists groups like Jabhat al-Nusra have already tortured and killed too many Syrians. Those lucky enough to escape have ended up in under funded and crowded camps in neighboring countries. But seeing little future for their families in these camps, and knowing they may never be able to return home, many have decided to embark on that dangerous and uncertain journey for a better life in Europe.
But, it’s not just Syria refugees either. Older, longer-running conflicts have displaced over one million refugees from Somalia and two million from Afghanistan. Political and sectarian repression in not only the Mid-East but other countries as well are all contributing to the most immense humanitarian crisis of our times. Many families in Eritrea are fleeing the dictatorship there. In Myanmar, a Muslim minority group known as the Rohingya has endured brutal violence and ethnic cleansing, sometimes with the support of the Myanmar government or even at the hands of government forces themselves. It was just recently that the plight of fleeing Rohingyas became known to the outside world only after thousands became stranded at sea, marooned in ill equipped boats just because neighboring countries refused to take them in.
In Central America, gang violence and lawlessness made thousands of families so desperate for their children’s safety that they sent those children on a perilous journey north toward what they hoped would be safety in the United States. Today, that influx of so many children have only exasperated the ongoing immigration debate in Washington. Never mind that the United States is one nation that has contributed to this humanitarian crisis of the 21st century. We have done it by being the largest consumer of illegal drugs. In the Mid-East our foreign policies have only created the instability through-out the whole region which has given rise to the many insurgent terrorist groups that have added to the growing violence forcing more people to seek save havens outside their own country. In other words the United States has inadvertently helped create the worst humanitarian crisis since the Second World War.
To end the human suffering and restore some stability and security the United States must first realize that by our own policies and interventions through-out the world have helped create the instability that has only intensified this on going global humanitarian crisis. Our future depends on solving one of the most pressing crisis of our times. It can be done but only through diplomacy.