Baku, Azerbaijan, Nov. 13
By Claude Salhani - Trend:
The leaders of the world’s most industrialized nations, known as the G20 will meet in the Turkish resort town of Antalya next week to discuss the major problems facing our world today.
No doubt they will address issues such as global warming that some will continue to ignore and/or deny its existence. And that despite the scientific facts that several islands in the Pacific are slowly sinking and that a number of countries have registered their hottest summer in history. And there are still a number of skeptics.
But while our scientists argue with world leaders over climate changes and disappearing coast lines, there in indeed a much more pressing issue at hand, one which will no doubt be addressed: that is the fate of several millions of refugees surviving – just barely – in makeshift camps scattered across the Levant and Europe.
The vast majority of those refugees come from Syria where the civil war has claimed anywhere from 150,000 lives to 350,000, according to opposition groups. The United Nations estimates the number of people killed in the civil war that started in 2011 at 220,000.
But the dead are not the problem here. The real problem, and one that transcends Syria’s borders is the question of the refugees. In fact the Syrian civil war has created the largest refugee crisis since the end of World War II.
Digesting what is really happening to the people who have been forced out of their homes has become somewhat banal given that we are constantly bombarded with facts and figures that the numbers no longer hold any meaning. We have become immune to real tragedies being shown to us live on television.
But here is a staggering figure: the number of refugees created by the war in Syria: are you ready for this? Nine million. Nine million people in Syria were forced to flee their homes for safer places.
Some headed to Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Turkey; Syria’s immediate neighbors. Others opted to resettle in Europe and descended on member countries of the European Union like swarms of locusts.
Now here is another astounding figure; you recall the number of refugees from Syria, right? Nine million. The total pre-war population of Syria was under 18 million. That means that half of the country’s population have become refugees. Every other person in the country has been displaced by the war.
Comparatively, this would be the equivalent of 166 million Americans where to become refugees. It is difficult to fathom numbers such as those. In that respect Joseph Stalin, the former Soviet dictator was right when he said that a single death is a tragedy whereas a million deaths is a statistic. So is the fate 9 million Syrian refugees. They too are a statistic.
The real challenge facing the leaders of the G20 countries when they convene in Turkey next week is to come up with a viable formula on how to avoid such tragedies in the first place. In our day and age when we profess to be somewhat civilized such tragedies should not be permitted to take place to begin with.
Part of the problem however in trying to get leaders of countries as diverse as Russia, China, United States and the European Union; Brazil and Argentina; India and Indonesia, and with conflicting political agendas to agree on the concept of creating and dispatching an international preemptive force.
Such a force would intervene militarily if needed to prevent countries falling into chaos, anarchy and violence. Seeing how the outcome of the Syrian civil war is affecting not only Syria’s immediate neighbors, but is also impacts European countries, it should only be logical for those countries to preempt such disasters as the one currently unfolding in Syria. Perhaps the G20 leaders may see for themselves a boatload or two of refugees arriving by sea on the shores of Antalya, while they are out for a quick stroll on the beach and be moved to take some real action.
Claude Salhani is a senior editor at Trend Agency
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