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Call them what they are: Refugees are not migrants


Should America be offering more help?

Major news outlets, including some of the most highly respected companies such as the BBC and the New York Times, have labeled the hordes of Syrians making headlines as “migrants.”

But surprisingly, BuzzFeed News has been a leader in covering the situation appropriately, using the title ‘refugees’ in headlines and in stories. The reason these people are refugees and not migrants is because they’re fleeing a dangerous and incredibly deadly civil war, estimated to have killed over 100,000 Syrians since 2011.

The country has been lead by Bashar al-Assad, who has been accused of war crimes, dropping bombs and using chemical weapons on his own citizens. al-Assad has long been a target of international scrutiny, and this flood of refugees is just the most recent in a long line of problems in the region caused by the Syrian government.

And now, numbers have come out estimating that over 2,000 people have died trying to reach Europe this year alone, highlighting the serious humanitarian needs these refugees represent.

Images of the small Syrian boy’s body laying face-down, having washed up on shore, have brought more international attention to the crisis.

Part of the international attention is from right here in the United States.

Should we as Americans be asking what we can do to help?

Other countries have already committed to accepting and providing aid to tens of thousands of refugees, while the U.S. has so far pledged to very few.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel came out this week in support of the refugees, and called on other European countries to provide equal support, as she feels Germany has taken on an unfair burden while providing a majority of the logistical and financial assistance.

As this issue balloons into a crisis, it has naturally become a part of presidential campaign speeches and platforms. Democrat Martin O’Malley has been vocal about needing to do more for these refugees.

“We can do better,” O’Malley said at an event in Des Moines this weekend.

He suggests putting up barbed wire across borders, as other countries have done, isn’t going to solve the issue.

Americans should be sympathetic to the Syrians’ cause, considering there is a good chance a majority of their ancestors were either immigrants or fleeing their home country generations ago.

If we’re not going to open our homes to them, then we could at least provide more support in the form of humanitarian aid.

This isn’t just a Middle Eastern issue, and this isn’t just a European Union issue. This is an international issue, and it demands our help.

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