March 2017 is the fifth anniversary of the Syrian refugee crisis. The first refugees began to migrate to the nearby countries of Jordan and Lebanon back in 2011. No one thought the crisis would last months, let alone years.
The world did not start hearing about the refugee crisis until it hit Europe. As with everything else, an emergency isn’t an emergency until it hits the First World. But the crisis has existed in countries like Jordan and Lebanon for years and these countries have arguably taken the biggest hits to their infrastructure thanks to the influx of refugees. They have also established some of the strictest restrictions against Syrian refugees in regard to visas and employment opportunities, most likely to offset the desire to migrate.
For example, Lebanon’s health care sector barely has any resources to deal with the amount of Lebanese and Syrians who come into offices every day. Since Syrians pay three times less for a consultation fee at health clinics than people from Lebanon thanks to the UN Refugee Agency, this creates tension between the refugees and the locals who can barely afford healthcare as it is. This situation, among others, has led to new visa restrictions for Syrians crossing the border into Lebanon, making it impossible for refugees to enter the country.
Though this restriction may seem unfair, please keep in mind that these countries do not have the same infrastructure as European countries or the United States, making it harder for Lebanon to welcome refugees with open arms, especially after five years of doing so, when resources are scarcer than ever.
Maybe if the United States and more European countries opened their doors to aid refugees, Lebanon would not have to establish as many restrictions; if there were more of a balance of where refugees could go, then countries could help to the best of their abilities instead of being strung out.
If countries with more resources provided more aid for Syrian refugees, they could offset the burden placed on countries like Lebanon and simultaneously help refugees. Seeing that many Syrians are fleeing toward Lebanon, it would make sense to establish aid efforts here to help the Lebanese government keep their people happy and refugees safe. Doing so might contribute to easing racial tensions between both countries because citizens and refugees wouldn’t be fighting for resources or jobs.
If the U.S. and Europe are not going to help refugees, then they should at least help the countries that try to do so.