In history textbooks for the next generation, the Syrian civil war will probably be one of the most critical aspects to study. Aside from the length and complexity of the civil war, the humanitarian catastrophe it has created in the midst of the Middle East and in front of the eyes of everybody will be one of the most unforgettable dimensions of it.
The civil war has brought an unimaginable volume of atrocity and violence for the people of Syria. Still today, the Syrian regime is attacking its civilians in different regions of Syria. The Syrian regime used all possible killing machines at its disposal in order to depopulate the country from the groups and people opposing its brutal rule in the country.
So far hundreds of thousands of Syrians have lost their lives and millions of them have been wounded. A majority of the population of the country became either internally displaced people (IDP) or refugees abroad.
Although a significant portion of the international community does not pay attention to the conflict anymore, there is still no place for optimism in regards to the humanitarian situation on the ground.
Dozens of people lost their lives during the air attacks on civilian areas. In the last several months the attempts by the Syrian regime to turn the city of Idlib to another bloodbath have been stopped as a result of the intervention of the Turkish government. As mentioned by the Turkish government on many occasions, the continuity of these attacks may generate another major flow of refugees and further deterioration in the conditions of the IDPs within Syria.
It has been now almost eight years since the beginning of the Syrian refugee crisis and since then there has been no attempt by the international community to share the burden with neighboring countries.
In these eight years, Turkey has become the country that hosts the most Syrian refugees, more than any other country in the world. More than 3.5 million Syrians live in Turkey today. From the very beginning, the Turkish government emphasized the necessity of sharing the burden to deal with this humanitarian crisis.
However many countries, including those in Europe, regarded building higher walls as the best way to deal with this tragedy. When the crisis hit their doors a few years ago they finally signed an agreement with Turkey. However later they failed to fulfill their commitments.
The rise of far-right populism in Europe in the last few years has transformed the insensitivity for this humanitarian tragedy to anti-refugee sentiments. We have seen the rise of political parties whose main agenda is to stop the admittance of the refugees in their countries.
There have been opportunistic far-right political figures who want to capitalize on these sentiments and mobilize people against refugees. Especially in the case of Syrian refugees, we saw an amalgamation of xenophobia, Islamophobia and far-right populism acting together and targeting the people who fled to save their lives from the atrocities of the Syrian regime and its allies. The governments of these countries neither want to contribute to the resolution of the crisis in Syria nor demonstrate any will to help the tragedy stemming from this crisis. Acting as if the conflict does not exist and treating the people escaping from this conflict as inhumanely as possible was considered the best option for some in these countries.
While many people are discussing the state of Syrian refugees one more time nowadays, it is critical to remember the root causes of the conflict in Syria and the irresponsibility of many actors in the international arena amid the growing humanitarian crisis over the last eight years. It is a tragedy that all of those actors who have turned a blind eye will be held accountable for in the history textbooks of the future.
[Daily Sabah, 29 July 2019]