This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

If you are a user of my textbook and would like to suggest a blog post idea, please email me at: john.weeks@sdsu.edu

Friday, December 5, 2014

What Will Become of Syria's Refugees?

Amnesty International has just released a report detailing the incredibly bad refugee situation for Syria as the country implodes.

In total, more than 10 million Syrians, or 45% of the country’s population are believed to have been forced out of their homes due to the conflict. Of those, 6.5 million are displaced within Syria and approximately 4 million people have sought refuge in other countries. Of this 4 million, 3.8 million - or 95% - are now in just five host countries: Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt. 
The six countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) - Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates - have pledged 0 resettlement places. Excluding Germany, the remaining 27 countries in the European Union (EU) have pledged a total of 6,305 places – which amounts to just 0.17% of the number of refugees currently living in the main host countries. Russia and China have not offered to resettle any Syrian refugees. In total, 63,170 resettlement places have been offered globally, equal to a mere 1.7% of Syrian refugees in Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Egypt and Turkey.
Amnesty International believes that a much larger fraction of Syrian refugees need to be relocated to other countries beyond the near neighbors. This is obviously not an easy thing to do, given the inherent human predilection for xenophobia. This is exemplified by a story on NPR about the growing issue in Sweden about its acceptance already of a large number of immigrants, including Syrian refugees. 
Sweden's migration board projects that 95,000 people, many of them refugees from Syria, are expected to arrive next year. That would be a record in this country of 10 million people that's already taken in more refugees, relative to its population, than any other country in Europe. But the arrival of so many refugees is testing the country's famously tolerant identity. Swedes voted out centrist Prime Minister Frederik Reinfeldt this September after he gave a speech asking people to "open their hearts" to those fleeing war. Instead, an anti-immigrant party, the Sweden Democrats, won seats in parliament and helped bring down the center-left government of Prime Minister Stefan Lofven earlier this week.
 The story focuses especially on the small city of Sodertalje, just outside of Stockholm.
Even by Swedish standards, Sodertalje has been exceptionally welcoming to refugees. Most are Syrian Christians. Assyrians — or Christians from Iraq, Turkey and Syria — have been moving to the city since the first wave of refugees began coming to Sweden in the 1970s.Sodertalje now has five Syrian Orthodox churches, two professional soccer teams, and a TV channel that broadcasts in Neo-Aramaic, Arabic and English to eighty countries. One third of the population — 30,000 out of 90,00 people — now hails from all around the Middle East, says city manager Martin Andreae.
If you've read either the 11th or 12th edition of my text, you'll recognize the similarities with El Cajon, California, which has a large population of predominantly Christian refugees from Iraq. Population movements are rarely easy for anyone involved. 

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