Modern International Affairs students discuss Syrian refugee crisis


Provided by Julia Eliovich

Julia Eliovich stands in Lebanon, where she moved after her sophomore year at Harker. She recently moved back to California to attend Santa Monica College.

Now in its fourth year, the Syrian Refugee Crisis has become the largest refugee crisis since World War II as the number of refugees fleeing the country continues to increase exponentially.

An estimated 12 million Syrians have fled their homes since the outbreak of civil war in March 2011, fleeing from Syria to take refuge in neighbouring countries or within Syria itself. Some have fled to European countries, with Germany and Sweden receiving almost half of the applications.

The severity of the crisis has inspired a global response to help aid refugees. Various Silicon Valley-based companies have launched efforts to aid Syrian refugees, after being called to action by President Obama. Kickstarter, for example, has created a page where donations to the UNHCR can be made and Airbnb is providing shelter for those in impacted areas.

Though the U.S. has only accepted about 1,500 refugees since the start of the war in 2011, Secretary of State John Kerry announced last month that the U.S. would accept 75,000 refugees in the next fiscal year and 100,000 refugees in 2017. The U.S. has also provided $4.5 billion in aid to those affected by the conflict.

Modern International Affairs, a semester-long course taught by history and economics teacher Damon Halback, has not extensively covered the crisis itself but has taken a look into its causes.

“Our coverage of the refugee crisis has been tangential in that we are not examining the European response to it as much, but we are really engaged in an intense study of the roots of the crisis […] That being said, we did have a brief discussion in one of the classes regarding the various countries in Europe regarding their treatment of the refugees,” Halback said.

Shannon Hong (12), a student in the class, explains her view that the United States should welcome more refugees.

 “I believe that the US should be accepting more refugees and creating a clearer path to immigration, and I think the best way, and the reason why, is because, it’s been really proven immigrants are the ones that really can power forward our economy, and that includes for Europe,” she said.