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Breaking Borders

After years and years of problems in the Middle East, it took one photo of a young boy’s body washed up on shore to produce a sudden and quick response to refugees seeking asylum. Though this wasn’t the first time this occurred, the pairing of the photo and the desperation of refugees stuck in the middle of growing unrest sparked change. With conflicts at an all time high between Syria and Afghanistan, more and more people are fleeing the country in search of safety across borders.

Just this year, BBC stated that more than 2600 migrants have drowned in the Mediterranean trying to reach Greece or Italy. The need to get to safety is far higher than the will to stick it out in Syria for many migrants. Also this year 230,000 refugees have arrived in Greece and about 115,000 have arrived in Italy, with more coming to Spain. Now that Germany and Austria have opened their borders, this number will increase by thousands. The travel is perilous. Many refugees who are so desperate to live that they are leaving their home, instead face death due to boats capsizing in the sea or by suffocating in cars and trucks crossing borders.

Migrants pay thousands of dollars to get to this freedom and the travel is not easy. Small inflatable rafts, also known as dinghies, can be seen pushing off the coast of Turkey, often with far too many people inside. Though the lucky are often picked up by coastguard boats, most face the strength of the sea in a raft designed for tourism. When they reach the beaches of Greece where they often land, migrants can be seen falling to the earth, grateful to have made it after sitting extremely still for hours upon hours not to capsize the boat. The journey seldom ends there. Whether it is a train, bus or truck waiting for them, they overcrowd again to travel elsewhere, often to Austria, Germany or Italy, in hopes of a safer life. In these countries, migrants sleeping near train stations or nestling under trees with donated blankets are a normal sight.

The new refugee centers in Germany and Austria are quickly becoming filled with migrants. They wait for hours to be registered, seen by makeshift doctors and shown to temporary housing areas.  Though these EU countries are doing what they can, the struggle to accommodate everyone is very high. Germany, Italy and Austria are hoping that other EU countries will help them to handle the situation. The United States is one of the newest to step up to the plate.

Officials have stated that next year between 5000 and 8000 Syrian refugees will be welcomed into the United States. It was just released that in 2017 the US hopes to let in 100,000 refugees. As of June, the United States took in less than 1000 Syrians, but that isn’t to say the country isn’t playing its part in helping. 4 billion dollars has been donated to aid the Syrian refugees with relocation. Though the United States would like to work with Syria to make it a safe environment once again, it is a hope easier said than done.

Though resources in many European countries are being used rapidly in the aid of refugees, the countries are still doing all they can to help. The acceptance of hundreds of thousands of Syrians is a step towards providing them with a better life. By opening up their borders, they are saving people who are desperate for safety. It’s not going to be an easily resolved process, but the countries must start somewhere.

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