Few words are needed to express the heavy realities found within our global refugee crisis. Ai Weiwei’s documentary Human Flow captivates an awareness of this crisis chronicling the unimaginable narratives of refugees around the globe. Weiwei follows a series of stories, capturing the lives of refugees in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, France, Greece, Germany, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Kenya, Mexico and Turkey.
Moderated by Prof. Aziz Rana, law, the forum allowed five professors from Cornell’s government, law and history departments to discuss whether some actions constitute war crimes and outline what — if anything — the international community can do to punish those responsible.
The old adage — “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” — is not applicable in this case because some of the groups who believe the U.S. must defeat al-Assad are considered terrorists as well, Evangelista said, referencing the Kurds in Turkey as an example.
A few weeks ago, a friend and I were approached on a street in D.C. by a young man whose opening line was “Excuse me, did you know that women are forced to have sex for water?”
I presume he got what he was looking for because I stopped, shocked. “What?” I asked, not sure I had heard correctly. He started to talk to me about exploited women in camps somewhere who were starved and abused, until he finally made it clear that he was discussing the Syrian refugee crisis and was about to ask me for money. He was from an organization that “did work on the ground in Syria,” although the type of work and its effectiveness were both unclear. He told us more tragic tales of refugees drowning in the Mediterranean and dying as they tried to escape war.
Mayor Svante Myrick ’09 announced that he will do “everything in [his] power to welcome Syrian refugees to Ithaca” in a Nov. 17 post on his Facebook page, echoing sentiments many New York State officials have also shown. Referencing a Washington Post article about Americans’ negative attitude towards accepting Jewish refugees at the brink of World War II, Myrick wrote, “If we turn away all Syrian refugees, we are committing the same sin.”
There is a strong historical precedent for accepting refugees in New York State and in the Ithaca area — nearly one-third of refugees from the former Soviet Union sent to the United States were resettled in New York, according to the Migration Policy Institute. In 2014, New York had the third highest resettlement rate of refugees across the U.S. states, admitting a total of 4,082 refugees. Ninety-five percent of all New York State refugees were resettled to upstate New York that year.
Several dozen students gathered at the “What’s Happening in Syria?” event hosted Friday by a coalition of Cornell clubs about the Syrian refugee crisis. The mass migration, first catalyzed by the Syrian Civil War, which began in 2010, has gained renewed media attention because of the recent influx of Syrians and migrants from other countries into coastal European countries offering asylum. The South Asian Council hosted the presentation and following discussion, bringing together many diverse organizations, including Cornell International Affairs Society, Arab Students Association and Cornell Organization for Labor Action. “Although the South Asian Council is not directly affiliated with Syria, we understand the global nature of the humanitarian crisis that is occurring right now,” said Caro Achar ’18, one of the students who presented information about Syria. “Ultimately, we are humans too.