Hundreds of thousands flee. They flee the terror that is the radical ISIS regime. They flee the violence of the civil war between the government of Bashar al-Assad and the separatists. They are Muslim and Christian. They are women and men. As images of Aylan Kurdi, the child migrant who was found dead on Turkish shores, drawing mourning from nearly every media outlet, Angela Merkel reminds us that most of all, they are human.
Since the start of the Syrian crisis, German Chancellor Merkel has been the most prominent voice in Europe’s efforts. Merkel has taken the lead in rallying European Union support for the victims. According to BBC, approximately 800,000 refugees are expected to arrive in Germany this year, and they’ll need sanctuary.
As millions of innocent families head to Europe in the hopes of escaping violence, most European leaders have remained silent and cold towards the refugees. In light of the EU’s apprehension, Merkel has pledged to take in close to, or over, a million refugees.
“This is a responsibility for the entire EU,” Merkel said after a meeting with Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann. Admittedly, the task of taking on millions of refugees is a daunting fiscal and bureaucratic task to say the least. Checks and documentation of each individual seeking asylum are necessary to ensure that no one being let in is a threat to national security.
According to the U.N. Refugee Agency, the United Nations is seeking 8.4 billion dollars to fund programs in refugee aid. While there is no simple solution to the crisis, Merkel reminds the rest of the European nations that “We just have to get stuck in and remove obstacles to enable a peaceful coexistence.”
Peaceful coexistence is the goal, and the rest of the world can learn an important lesson regarding reaching this goal from the German chancellor. Problems like this can only be solved through bravery and united efforts. Merkel continues to display dedication towards the humanitarian issue, even as support from her own government wanes from both the conservative right and her own Christian Democratic base, according to Politico.EU.
Unfortunately, the rest of the world has not been as forward-thinking about the crisis as Merkel.
For instance, Hungary has taken to spraying tear gas at the desperate migrants. The country has subsequently defended its actions by citing the injury of police officers. This does not explain the lack of support on the part of the Hungarian government evident in its refusal to take refugees or provide support.
Additionally, Russia is steadily building up its military near Syria. This increase in military presence is the physical manifestation of Vladimir Putin’s support for the Assad regime, a troubling sign for refugees.
Hungary’s unwarranted aggression and Putin’s military support of the Assad regime that are just a few examples of the lack of collective cooperation that continues to plague the decision-making of able-bodied governments.
The United States is also at fault for not providing enough support in a timely fashion. We are currently taking in around 10,000 Syrian refugees. Only recently did Secretary of State John Kerry announce an increase in the country’s refugee intake to 70,000-85,000 refugees. However, it has not been confirmed whether they will be from the area of the current crisis. As Merkel does her best to rally the world’s able-bodied nations, she appears to be a lone wolf of sorts.
Humanity has come to a point where we must choose between competition and cooperation. The constant battle between political interests has only lead to the neglect of humanitarian issues across the spectrum. I only hope that history treats Merkel well for leadership towards a new era in peace and cooperation of humanity.