Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

We Just Can't Ignore the Refugee Crisis

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

We Just Can't Ignore the Refugee Crisis

Article excerpt

Byline: Tonyaa Weathersbee

The people keep coming.

And the corpses keep piling up.

More than two months after the body of 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi washed up on a Turkish beach and became the symbol of Syrians desperate to escape their war-torn homeland, some 68,000 migrants have landed in Greece.

Like Aylan, many don't make it.

According to the Missing Migrants Project, 10 migrants died last month in two shipwrecks that happened within 24 hours off the coasts of Turkey and Greece.

Earlier in October, a wooden boat carrying 24 Syrian migrants overturned near Turkey.

Twenty-one were rescued while the bodies of a woman, a female child and an infant were recovered. Thirty-five migrants went into the sea when their rickety boat capsized off the coast of the Greek island of Lesvos.

The remains of four children, two women and a man were recovered. And according to news reports, on Oct. 30, Greece's coast guard pulled 144 migrants and 22 corpses from the sea.

This is the grim reality of what's happening. And it certainly justified the grim assessment provided by former longtime U.S. diplomat Dennis Ross when he recently met with the Times-Union editorial board.

"Look, you have a humanitarian catastrophe here, and there is no other way to put it," said Ross, now counselor and William Davidson Distinguished Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Ross added that it's urgent to do more to ease the Syrian refugee crisis because "it's a blight on the international conscience that so little has been done. It's tearing up the (European Union)."

But Ross, who has helped to shape U.S. involvement in the Middle East under four administrations - the most recent as special advisor to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton - said the U.S. can begin to alleviate some of that misery by establishing a safe haven for them in Syria.

DEMAND OTHER NATIONS STEP UP

Such a haven would deter Syrians from risking their lives trying to get across the Mediterranean to Greece while serving as a place for the Syrian opposition to coalesce, Ross said. …

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