Syrian Refugee Crisis in Greece

The concern over refugees is considered a global crisis for two reasons. The first issue is the amount of people in the world considered refugees, in need of a safe place to live. The second issue is the ways in which other countries of the world have failed in their response to the growing need for humanitarianism.

Since the Syrian civil war broke out in 2015, Europe has faced major economic set backs due to refugees seeking sanctuary. Most of the refugees are from Syria, but also include people from Afghanistan and Iraq, fleeing due to violence from war and fear of persecution. For many, Greece has been a stop along the way into central countries in the European Union. However, due to restrictions put on the number of refugees permitted to enter, many have found themselves trapped along the islands. According to reports by the New York Times, seven months after the European Union closed its doors to refugees, Greece has continued so be a holding cell for some 57,000 people.

Only just before the surge of the refugee crisis began, Greece had found itself in the middle of an economic breakdown. Recently tourism has become a major source of income, with roughly 18.5 million tourists traveling to Greece each year. The income of tourism has not been enough to generate a stable economy for Greece. In June of 2015, Greek president Prokopis Pavlopouos declared the country to be bankrupt, imposing banking controls and capitol restrictions in hopes of stabilizing the economy.

After meeting with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development Secretary-General Angel Gurria commented that the refugee crisis has created significant problems for Greek growth and economy. “Greece needs to receive substantial support to deal with this new challenge. No single country can address this challenge on its own,” he said after European Union leaders met to discuss the migration crisis with Turkey. The European Commission has provided services to the Greek government and to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, but the Greek government has continually misused the fund provided and failed to improve conditions of the government camps.

Countries in the European Union are divided over how to deal with the growing refugee crisis. Many countries have put up more complex border controls and set restrictions to limit the number of refugees arriving. Meanwhile, Greece continues to bear the burden of its own ongoing economic crisis while attempting to provide for those coming into the country. Despite a lower economic status, higher unemployment rate, and greater population density, Greece has been much faster to respond to and aid refugees than other countries in the European Union.

Willingness to help and a good moral compass have not been enough to help the millions of refugees. Greece is currently facing serious humanitarian issues due to the influx of refugees and the country’s lack of resources. According to the U.N. one seventh of the world’s refugee population are considered to be disabled, but there remains to be a lack of urgency in providing basic human needs such as a shelter, health services, and security.

According to a 2015 report by the Women’s Refugee Commission, more than one million refugees fled to Europe after having faced political unrest and war related violence. The influx of refugees into Europe seeking sanctuary sparked the political plan by the European Union to try and reduce the flow of refugees by detaining arrivals in Greece. The rest of the European Union has since then failed to uphold their end of the deal, leaving Greece to provide on their own. The responsibility to help and protect refugees extends far past politics. The government sponsored refugee camps quickly turned into detention centers, which have been deemed, unfit for human habitation with “little consideration” given to the protection of women.

Although the poor economic status held by Greece at the moment is a reason as to why the Syrian refugee crisis is affecting the country so much, a much greater reason is due to the lack of support by other European Union nations. The world needs to see the refugee crisis, not as a burden, but as a human responsibility.

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