Fixing the refugee crisis

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Fixing the refugee crisis

The distressing photo of a Syrian toddler’s body washed up on a Turkish beach has raised global awareness over the Syrian refugee crisis. The haunting images of 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi’s body, found face down, and other young victims shocked the world and sparked fresh calls for action to deal with one of the worst refugee crises in recent decades.

Millions of Syrians have fled their homeland - which contains a strong militant Islamic State presence - and sought refuge in neighboring countries. They have mostly boarded smuggler’s ships to reach Europe, and many have drowned on their way, with the victims being mostly women and children.

Aylan’s family of four fled from their home in northern Syria, occupied by the Islamic State, and arrived in Turkey over land. They were heading for Greece when their boat capsized. Aylan, his 5-year-old brother and their mother were killed. Of the 23 Syrian passengers, 12 died and two are missing.

The International Organization for Migration assessed that more than 350,000 people from the Middle East and North Africa have crossed the Mediterranean to resettle in Europe so far this year. About 15,000 are attempting life-staking journeys every day to flee from war, terror and hunger.

The death toll of refugees this year is already estimated to be at 2,600. After arriving at the coastal countries of Greece and Italy, the refugees try to find new homes in various parts of Europe. Many die silently, cheated by illegal smugglers. A trolley was recently found on a road in Austria with 71 bodies, refugees who died by suffocation.

European countries are struggling with this unprecedented flood of refugees. But they must not turn a blind eye to their ordeal. International countries must join hands to provide aid, shelter and legal settlements to prevent innocent deaths like those of the Kurdish boys.

The European Union must come up with guidelines to appropriate acceptance of refugees among member states. Germany’s leadership is needed, in particular. It recently announced that it would ease asylum restrictions and offered to accept up to 800,000 Syrian refugees this year. Syrians make up 69 percent of the recent flood of migrants, while 18 percent are from Afghanistan. The world needs to join hands to end these wars and conflicts and clamp down on Islamic State terrorist groups. At the same time, the international community must work harder to help resolve poverty and hunger in Africa. Korea, too, must get actively involved.

JoongAng Ilbo, Sept. 5, Page 26.

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