by Bridget Richard
Finding clear-cut answers for the who, what, where, and why of the recent refugee crisis is complicated because many of the conflicts and problems in this recent news story are rooted in years of deep struggle and pertain to various groups of people. Let’s try to summarize and inform to for those who have only heard the name of the crisis and not the underlying story.
Who: Refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq
An important distinction to make here is the difference between the term “refugee” and the word “migrant,” as some large news outlets like BBC have used in the past. Al Jazeera made an announcement about their endorsement of the former, saying that it emphasizes the fact that these people are leaving areas of civil war and instability, and that the term “migrant” leaves connotation of annoyance and that their stories are less valuable.
What: A large exodus of people are leaving the Middle East, either their homes or their shelters, and traveling to seek refuge in various countries in the EU. It’s known to be the largest influx of refugees in Europe since WWII. Many of these people are fleeing their country and crossing the Mediterranean Sea in cramped boats. They usually land in Greece, Turkey, or Italy, and either stay there or travel to another country like Germany.
Where: Germany has recently announced that it will not turn away any refugee. According to BBC, close to 450,000 people have fled to Germany. The EU has come together to find solutions to the raising demands to protect all of the people. However, there are fingers being pointed in another direction. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the UAE, and Oman have refused to take in any of the refugees. This has come to be a point of controversy considering that the journey across the Mediterranean Sea is dangerous, unregulated, and often deadly.
When: The important thing to note is that people have not just started fleeing these countries recently. They have been for years. Part of the reason that this is such an important story now is the recent influx in the past summer, as shown by this graph by the Mercy Corps that shows just the amount of Syrian refugees that have fled in the past four years.
Why: There is no one, clear-cut explanation for why every refugee decided to leave. Many people leave to escape the war, terrorist groups in their country, or inadequate care in the camps that they have been relocated to.