Ahmad Al Atrash does not like to be called a refugee. To him, a Syrian who fled a brutal civil war in his country, that word is loaded with negative connotations, and separates him from the community that has now become his home: Chicago. Six months ago, he and his family resettled there. I recently had the chance to discuss with him his thoughts on the crisis in Syria, his experiences at a refugee camp in Jordan, his journey to the United States, and his hopes for his family and children.
The family is sitting around the dinner table, the tree is about to be decorated, and the U.S. is officially entering holiday season. Sadly, for Syrian refugees around the world, this season does not bring such excitment. The winter weather presents a special challenge to displaced refugees living in surrounding countries. Frigid winds, tumultuous rain, and precipitating snow hit the refugee camps in countries such as Lebanon and Jordan, increasing the chance of illness and death.
The first Arabs immigrated to the United States in the 1880s. Most of them came from Greater Syria, which is present-day Lebanon, Palestine, Israel, Jordan, and Syria. Typically, immigrants made the journey to escape economic struggles and to pursue the American dream. In recent years, the migration from Greater Syria to the United States has been driven largely by political unrest and religious conflict in the Middle East.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was created in 1951, during the Second World War. The purpose of its creation was to help millions of Europeans who fled their countries and left everything behind.
Today, the world is still working hard, seeking the protection of refugees and helping them all over the world.
In January, President Trump announced his support for the creation of safe zones in Syria. Which, if planned and executed properly, can protect civilian populations from the crossfire.
Washington, DC (Jan. 27, 2017)--The American Relief Coalition for Syria (ARCS) and its 13 member organizations join refugee rights and Syrian diaspora organizations in urging President Trump to reconsider an executive order that would bar thousands of displaced Syrians from seeking a safe, permanent home. The decision to halt resettlement would not only be detrimental to the safety and livelihoods of Syrians currently waiting to be resettled but also harmful to Syrian refugees who have already been resettled in the U.S.