Migration: The last Hope for Iraqi and Syrian Citizens

When people decide to leave their home, it’s not because they do it for fun, but they hope for the better life. As a human being, everyone has the right to live with courtesy and respect. It’s a natural right to choose the destination that we feel safety and peace. Everybody wish to born in the land where they find peace and prosperity. Thus, it’s fair to argue that people should be given a chance to live where they want to live. They should not be avoided under any means or justification unless they breach the law and social bindings in the country where they migrating to.

In the recent days, hundreds and thousands of refugees mainly from Iraq and Syria crossed thousands of miles and risked their lives to reach the heaven which for many them is known as “Europe.” Migrating thousands is not simply without a reason, but there are many factors that pushed those people to start over a new life in new destination where they can find safety at least for their children and their life will not be that cheap anymore.

Even though migrating of those people is not something new and some millions already migrated into Turkey, Jordan, Kurdistan, and Lebanon. For instance, in the small country like Lebanon with a population of 4.5 million, hosted 1,113,941 Syrian refugees that forms 25 of the total population. According to the UNHCR, there are 225,746 Syrian and 798,492 Iraqi refugees in Kurdistan region by the end of 2014, and this number rose to 1.7 after ISIS controlled Anbar province in Iraq. However, this large number of refugees did not bring the attention of international community, international media, and human rights organizations until most recently where less than half million refugees reached to Europe.

Syrian refugee camp east of Erbil, Kurdistan Region. Safin Hamed / AFP
Syrian refugee camp east of Erbil, Kurdistan Region. Safin Hamed / AFP

The life of refugees in those countries that we mentioned is really tough; most of them are living under tents with the lack of even basic services. Those countries have limits of budget and they can not afford to provide health services, schools, electricity, water sanitation and other daily needs and basic services without support from international community .

The refugees spend almost three to four years of their lives under these tents hoping to return back to their country soon, but they found that the scale of destruction even getting larger and more people flee their homes. Despite the fact that the four countries are not politically stable and situations could be erupted at any time. Besides, the global and regional powers are divided and failed to take any action against Assad, ISIS and they also failed to settle Shia-Sunni conflicts; those people become hopeless. If they were positive to hope that international community intervene and stop the conflict, they are very disappointed now. They can not wait forever as they find no light.

People can wait when they find a hope; but, maybe its very difficult for Syrian and Iraqi to hope for a better future. The Syrian citizen born and saw Hafeez Assad and later his son Bashar. The two has used every means to punish the opponents of the regime and those who asked for freedom. For instance, only in February 1982, Hafeez Assad massacred nearly 40,000 Syrian citizens in Hama. People there only have the right to live if they could zip their mouth and follow whatever their majesty orders. Exactly, just like old times slaves, citizens had to follow what Assads order, if not, the death was awaiting them.

Syrians dreamed to be free one day. As the Arab spring started in Tunisia and Egypt, they thought their dream would come true even the cost could be too much. They rose against Bashar and the government responded with bullets. Hundreds dead in the first days of the uprising. Soon, some regional actors such as Turkey, Iran, Russia, the U.S., France, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar engaged and even made it worse as each of them backed different side.

At the beginning of the revolution, Syrians believed that takes only a few weeks to overthrow the regime, but what they never expected has happened. Islamic radical groups, including Al-Qaeda affiliated groups engaged and later ISIS emerged and changed the direction of the uprising into destructive civil war. Each of them started killing innocent civilians, demolishing homes and displacing people. They used every means such as beheading especially the Islamic State (ISIS), stoning, bombing prisoners alive and so many other methods that we can not even imagine. That makes thousands to run in order to save their life, but they found that things even getting worst there and the death toll raises daily.

The scale of destruction in a Kurdish town of Kobane
The scale of destruction in a Syrian Kurdish town of Kobane

For the Iraqis, things are even worse if comparing to Syria. They born and saw Saddam Hussein in power for 35 years where he did almost everything to destroy the country and killed hundreds and thousands of people, destroyed villages and committed crimes against humanity including the use of chemical weapon again civilian Kurds. The Iraqi grew up with AK47 and hopes for the new life, a better future, but end up with even worse condition.

Halabja, 1988
Halabja, 1988

As Saddam collapsed in 2003, Al-Qaeda and other non-state and state actors’ intervened and the new sectarian war escalated and directly funded by regional powers on behalf of the Iraqi blood. Thousands have been killed since then while they hoped that the collapse of Saddam will bring them a better future at least a peaceful life for their children. However, since then they start their days with explosions, they found that they even die because of their names, only their name, a simple reason. Therefore, they still hoped for better and stayed in the country, only few people fled the country, the rest hoped that one day sectarian violence will over and people will not die anymore because of Omar or Ali. However, ISIS emerged and they experienced beheading of their folks, mass destruction and brutality of terrorist groups. On the other hands, the Sh’a militants did almost what ISIS did. So, not even a zero hope left for them to live in such life. They get so tired to see all the bloodshedding, corruption and discrimination.

So, under such situation, its really unfair and immoral to stop any Iraqi or Syrian to migrate. The two countries has become a ghost just like the horror movies. You can find everything there, but not life. Citizens have nothing to live for in their own countries. Death is waiting for them, if not today, tomorrow. Their tomorrow will not be better than today based on what they experienced in the last few decades. They have no homes to return, and even if they have their homes, it will be destroyed sooner or later. Just guess, you work so hard to build a house and finally, after 30 years you may afford to build one. You raise your children and send them to school, universities have a better future and you may have so many hopes on them; but, suddenly someone, whether ISIS, Assad, Syrian Opposition, Shi’a militants or Iraqi government, Al-Qaeda or others come and kill your children, destroy your home and force you to leave the country. Just imagine, how can that person hope for the country again? He might be survived previously, and now he becomes a victim. They are sure if they return one day that nobody knows when, the same scenario will happen again and again. So, what does it mean to stay in the country? What does even a country mean while it only offers death, destruction and tears? How long they can live? Just guess if nobody kills them, let’s say 70 years. They wasted 35 years with Saddam, 11 years with Sh’ia and Sunni militants, and already 2 years with ISIS. We don’t know who will be next!

Photo : Matt Cardy/Getty Images
Photo : Matt Cardy/Getty Images

There is a simple question for those who believe those people are wrong to migrate. Why people living? Does anybody want to live in such situation? They even treated like a second class citizen for being Iraqi and Syrian, even their very intellectuals everyday facing affront and insult. Just think how someone in the airport treating an American citizen comparing to the Iraqi or Syrian citizen? Why the world should become so unfair to them? For what? Their fault is only because they born somewhere which they never wanted. They have born to be Iraqi, Syrian, Muslim, Yazzidi or whatever. It’s not their fault, and even it’s not their fault that their country is going this way; but some international actors just moved their fight into Iraq and Syria.

After all, everyone should have an equal chance to liver wherever they wish and to define their destiny. The right of refugees should not be denied. Also, they should abide by the law and regulation of the country where they migrate to. They should not breach the law or become machinery. This is also unfair to them if they ever think to be a preacher as they migrated because of that. They should be adapted and given a chance to live equally. They should also not be given the right to sleep in their homes and let taxpayers pay for their living, but they need to work hard. In the other word they should have equal rights and equal duty. Additionally, the Governments need to respect Iraqis and Syrian refugees, and they also need to better understand their hardness. We should not look them down, but they deserve to be treated with courtesy and respect. They are lovers of life, they don’t want to die for nothing. Their country is where they feel safety not where they born. The later one is their choice, and where they born are absolutely not what they chose.

About the Author
Nabaz is a lecturer at Lebanese French University. He obtained PhD. and Master degree in Public Management, UUM. He also holds a bachelor degree in Politics & International Relations, UKH. Nabaz is more interested to write on current political, economic and financial issues in the Middle East.
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