Gov. Rick Scott sent a letter to Florida’s Senate and House Representatives on Monday stating Florida will no longer accept Syrian refugees. This letter came just three days after the tragic attacks in Paris, yet it ignores the fact that refugees are fleeing from these same conditions in Syria.
Since the start of the war, over 250,000 people have been murdered by the Syrian government, and over 11 million Syrians have been displaced, according to CNN. Syria has become less and less inhabitable, yet surrounding countries have only made it more difficult for Syrians to seek asylum.
Thousands have died in dangerous treks across ocean and land to nearby European countries, yet refugees still continue to make these journeys because of the threat posed by the Syrian government and militant groups such as ISIS.
Gov. Scott has refused to acknowledge the dangers posed to Syrians in their own country. He refused to realize attacks similar to those in Paris have been happening in Syria on a daily basis. The significant loss of human life that took place in Paris last week should open our eyes to the daily inhumanities happening in Syria and elsewhere.
The horrors that rocked the streets of Paris are the same horrors that Syrians face on a daily basis. We should show the same solidarity with the victims of extremist violence in Syria that we have shown with the victims of the Paris attacks.
Furthermore, Scott’s letter poses another important problem in that it ignores the refugees’ rights. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR) defines refugees as “persons fleeing armed conflict or persecution.”
The 1951 Refugee Convention, a product of the UNHCR, gave certain rights to refugees, including the right to not be turned away, the right to request asylum even after entering a country illegally, and the right to basic human rights such as the security, education and freedom of religious expression.
Despite this, European countries have still made it incredibly difficult for refugees to enter Europe. Syria’s neighboring countries, such as Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon, have born the brunt of the refugee crisis.
It is crucial that countries of the West contribute to the growing crisis by accepting more refugees, rather than denying them their rights by turning them away.
Let us not allow these attacks in Paris to grow hatred inside of us, but rather let us aim to prevent suffering elsewhere. By promoting safer conditions for refugees around the world and here at home, we can avoid a greater loss of human life. Pray for Paris and pray for the rest of the world.
Dana Tarabishy is a senior majoring in biomedical sciences.