I’m certainly no expert on the refugee crisis transpiring in the Middle East and Europe, but it’s plain to see that it is, indeed, a crisis. While some nations in the EU, and elsewhere around the globe, are committing to taking in hundreds of thousands of asylum-seekers, others are refusing. Even more frustrating are the nations that simply aren’t allowing passage through their borders.
I’m from a small town outside the City of Utica in Central NY. Utica, for decades, has been one of many areas selected by the US State Department as a relocation area for refugees. It started with families from Italy, Germany, Poland, and Ireland; and through the years has expanded to refugees from countless nations around the world including Vietnam, Burma, Somalia, and Bosnia. A true melting pot which has given people a second chance at life, away from the oppression and death they faced in their home countries. Some info on Utica’s history with refugees can be found here.
There are some tough issues, though, with equally difficult solutions. Many of these are considerations that intersect in the world of emergency management and homeland security, as humanitarian matters often do. The issue of providing essential needs – food, water, and shelter – can be difficult. Obviously, just as in disasters we face at home, temporary solutions are implemented first as a lifesaving matter, with longer term solutions devised to attain some measure of normalcy. Things like jobs and school seem to be quite a ways off for people who left behind everything and look forward into the unknown.
There are also security concerns. As with any large number of people of any race, religion, or culture; the law of averages combined with opportunists and a measure of desperation will result in some number of bad people being in the mix. Some, like this Bosnian who moved to Utica as a supposed refugee, are even war criminals. There are concerns with the current refugee crisis that followers of ISIS may be amongst the refugee population, lying in wait to do harm. This is very likely true, and it will be difficult to identify them within the masses.
We have colleagues around the globe who are very actively engaged in this crisis, and will be for some time to come. Perhaps you have some personal or professional connections through which you can render support. If not, there are ways you can provide assistance.
UNHCR, the United Nations Refugee Agency provides relief supplies to refugee families including food, water, and blankets. They also provide necessary healthcare and other assistance. You can donate to them online.
The Independent wrote a great piece on 5 Practical Ways You Can Help Refugees Trying to Find Safety in Europe. Some involve financial donations or donations of goods and some provide volunteer opportunities.