• Turkey 2,715,789• Lebanon 2,264,345
• Jordan 834,204 • Greece 569,500
• Germany 702,816 • Saudi Arabia 75,000
• Macedonia 197,109 • Hungary 72,004
• Serbia 313,035 • Iraq 490,543
• United Arab Emirates (UAE) 78,000 • Kuwait 63,000
• Egypt 118,512 • Sweden 105,889
• Croatia 55,365 • Algeria 48,721
• Canada 96,347 • Qatar 40,042
• Austria 34,154 • The Netherlands 29,813
• Libya 26,672 • Demark 17,913
• Bulgaria 17,089 • Armenia 17,000
• Belgium 14,850 • Switzerland 11,974
• Norway 11,246 • France 10,281
• Brazil 11,097 • United Kingdom (UK) 13,894
• Spain 8,365 • Russia 5,000
• Malaysia 5,000 • Australia 4,500
• Tunisia 4,000 • Bahrain 3,500
• Cyprus 3,185 • Montenegro 2,975
• United States (US) 2,819 • Romania 2,470
• Italy 2,451 • Malta 1,222
• Finland 1,127 • Gaza Strip 1,000
The above list is an estimate of the number of Syrian refugees by country. It is only an estimate … some figures are estimated as of December, 2015, while others as of February, 2016, and still others are even older. No such data can be reliably reported, as these migrant human beings are continually on the move, seeking shelter wherever they might find it, being shuffled by borders and governments, and more leave Syria every day. So, while no truly accurate data exists, this table is as nearly correct as we can come, and is invaluable for comparative purposes. My goal is mainly to help us see just how many refugees there are from Syria and where they are.
For months now, there has been hostility toward these human beings, as world leaders across the globe try to find solutions, to find ways to provide for at least the most basic needs of these human beings. Many of us who are not world leaders have also struggled in our hearts and in our minds, shedding tears and losing sleep, wondering what the solution is, whether a solution will be found before millions begin to die, and if there even is a solution.
Today, it came to me. A light bulb moment. Amid the bickering, rhetoric and intolerance of those world leaders and those they represent, they have lost sight of the fact that these are human beings. They have lost sight of the fact that many of these human beings are living in deplorable conditions that we would not even expect our vilest convicted criminals to live in. Today, mass killer Anders Breivik, who murdered 77 people, mostly children, in Norway in 2011, gave a Nazi salute in court as a protest for being kept in prison and not allowed physical contact with his family. This made headlines. Breivik is living in the lap of luxury, compared to the refugees living in mud-filled camps. So what, you ask, is the solution to the plight of refugees? The solution, of course, lies with the leaders of every nation in the world, but in order for them to find solutions, they must understand the problem. They are viewing the problem from the point of view of demographics, of resource allocation, of what they consider to be fair for their nations. All of which makes sense, as their first responsibility is to the citizens of their respective nations. But what of their humanitarian responsibilities? What they fail to see is the human element. They go to bed in soft, warm, dry beds every night, their children have plenty of healthy food to eat, and their every basic human need is met.
I propose that every leader of the above-mentioned nations be forced to live with his or her family in the refugee camps in Turkey, Macedonia or Greece for a period of five days. Or perhaps, since some have proposed that people should just stay in Syria and not migrate elsewhere, they should spend five days with their families, in Syria! Either way, I think that if, instead of looking at numbers on a piece of paper or a computer screen, they were forced to look directly into the faces of these human beings, the faces of the cold, hungry children, they would be more willing to work together to come up with solutions, to open, not only their borders, but perhaps also their hearts, to their fellow mankind.
Do I really think this will happen? No, of course not. I am a pragmatist, but also an optimist and I do think there is a solution. I do not know what that solution is, or where it is to be found. But when I study the table, I see disparities that jump out at me, nations with vast resources that have accepted only a minimal amount of responsibility. And when I look at the pictures of the refugees in the camps, when I hear the stories of what life is like in war-ravaged Syria, my heart breaks and I want to personally urge all leaders to get back to work, to do everything in their power … and then do more.