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My Entire Family in Syria Now Consists of Refugees

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 22/10/2015 Basil Chaballout

2015-10-22-1445538870-1356522-Screenshot_201510221432231.png © Provided by The Huffington Post 2015-10-22-1445538870-1356522-Screenshot_201510221432231.png The remains of the neighborhood several of my family members lived in.
If you saw a crying child alone on the street, would you turn your back and walk away?
We already saw one child dead on a beach. And there are now over four million Syrian refugees today living abroad without homes. These poor people are being tossed between countries like unwanted garbage. And words like Donald Trump's echo throughout the media:

"I'm putting the people here on notice that are coming here from Syria as part of this mass migration that if I win, if I win, they're going back. They're going back, I'm telling you, they're going back."

These words sting. My entire family consists of refugees who were forced to leave their homes and move abroad or to other parts of Syria. And just last Friday the neighborhood some dreamed of one day returning to was demolished to rubble by Russian fighter jets.
Relatives have had to leave their wives and kids by way of boat to find work to support them. My cousins haven't been to school in years. Nevertheless, my relatives are still incredibly more fortunate than others we know who have lost family members or been taken to prison, or who are living in critical, near-death conditions.
The refugee crisis is the worst refugee disaster since World War II. Millions are desperately seeking help. Yet several countries like Hungary and Slovakia are turning their backs. Some make it impossibly difficult to enter, while others like the Gulf countries downright reject anyone from entering.
What makes the situation even more dire is that many of the services and aid that have been provided by the UN are being reduced or stopped due to lack of funding. This is alarming considering the situation in Syria is getting worse, and there are more and more refugees leaving everyday.
2015-10-22-1445545005-207774-Screenshot_2015102214502511.png © Provided by The Huffington Post 2015-10-22-1445545005-207774-Screenshot_2015102214502511.png The remnants of my grandfather's clothing shop in Homs. Many Syrians have lost their only means of supporting themselves, leading to forcible displacement.
The United States is no less immune from critique. There are over four million refugees. We are only accepting 10,000. The U.S. -- the supposed leader of the free world -- is helping not even one percent of a population whose situation has become one of the most pressing issues of our time.
And before the ISIS/lazy immigrant/economic excuses are thrown up in the air, it's important to note this:
  1. Any claim that this influx of refugees will sponsor some sort of terrorist movement or carry any hidden threats is entirely unfounded. Becoming a refugee is a legal process, and it requires a background check similar to that of any immigrant entering the country. So a refugee entering a country poses no more of a threat as does any other immigrant entering from any other country.
  2. These people have serious reasons that force them to lose everything they own and leave their country with nothing. An example being the fear of being drafted to fight for a side they don't believe in, potentially even being ordered to fight and kill their own family members. Other reasons being the physical destruction of their own home or workplace.
  3. Countless studies demonstrate the immense benefit that an influx of refugees can have on a country's economy.
2015-10-22-1445545097-2965755-IMG20151016WA0004.jpg © Provided by The Huffington Post 2015-10-22-1445545097-2965755-IMG20151016WA0004.jpg Community members looking through what appears to be the remains of a house.
But if that is not enough, and you still want to raise that American flag high claiming a no-refugee policy, I urge you to take a close look at that hand raising the flag. It is no different than the eight million hands scrambling off the boats on the beaches, filing countless papers, or hugging their children for the last time. These hands are all human. And these hands are just as valuable as any others.
As human beings we have a moral obligation to help those in need. If anything, we have the ability to empathize with those struggling.
It's one thing to hear about people losing their home and country, but to talk about them as worthless trash or potential terrorists, or use them to score points in political fights among candidates, is unwarranted and cruel.
So again let me ask: If you saw a crying child alone on the street, would you turn your back and walk away?
Well there are currently four million people from Syria alone -- and backs are turning.
Photo credit to the community members of Termaalah, a neighborhood in Homs.

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