Home Social Justice Faculty members present case for responsibility on behalf of Syrian refugees

Faculty members present case for responsibility on behalf of Syrian refugees

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At a faculty panel Wednesday night, distinguished Ohio University staff from a wide variety of departments discussed the Syrian refugee crisis and the part countries like the U.S. should play in the future.

Ziad Abu-Rish, an assistant professor in the department of history, began the discussion with an analysis of the current situation in the Middle East and the war that is forcing Syrian people out of their home country.

Over four million people have been displaced in the conflict that Abu-Rish described as both a civil war and a proxy war. He stressed that over half of the population has been displaced, some internally and some externally.

“Mess is a light word in comparison to what I would call the mass destruction … of Syria,” Abu-Rish said. “People are dying to escape this situation.”

Abu-Rish also explained that the U.S. holds complicated interests in Syria, which dispels the myth that the country can take a neutral stance in the conflict.

He cited violence and disease as partial causes of one of the largest migrant flows since the World War era, but he noted that the death of economic and social life in Syria was the primary cause of the movement.

Haley Duschinski, an associate professor in the sociology and anthropology department and director of the Center for Justice, Law & Culture, presented a case for American and European direct involvement in finding a solution to the humanitarian crisis. She reiterated Abu-Rish’s point that word choice matters in the media and government’s perspective.

For example, she mentioned that in August 2015, Al Jazeera released a statement that referred to the displaced Syrian people as refugees as opposed to “migrants,” which Dushinski claims is the kind of language that dispels Islamophobia in the common culture.

“There are 5,000 refugees per day … [the situation] is not as apocalyptic as some political leaders are claiming … we are responsible to provide harbor and sanctity to those refugees,” Duschinski said.

Both speakers were sure to stress that the U.S. had only taken in about 1,500 refugees so far and that the White House announced that the country would take 10,000 Syrians in 2016, referencing an article by the New York times.

Nukhet Sandal, assistant professor in the department of political science, spoke about the implications of refugees coming into Turkeyand how Turkey only accepted them as guests, preventing them from working and being granted legal safeguards.

Sandal also said that Turkey spent $6.5 billion on their humanitarian response, including schooling, healthcare and social services in refugee camps, but that Turkey itself had not received a lot of aid.  

“I know of a father who was a lawyer in Syria now working at a construction site in Turkey for $250 a month,” Sandal said.

Smoki Musaraj, assistant professor of anthropology in the department of sociology and anthropology, told the room that Turkey and Lebanon have combined to take in three-fourths of the world’s Syrian refugees and that the crisis is showcasing inequalities in European nations.

After Musaraj’s segment, the panel opened up and took questions from six audience members. The speakers stressed that they believed countries like the U.S. had a responsibility to safeguard the future of Syrian refugees.

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One Comment

  1. Karen Drake

    September 26, 2015 at 6:18 PM

    interesting article


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