The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights

We must not be indifferent to Syrian refugees

Because Syrians in Turkey are recognized as guests and not refugees with legal safeguards, there are countless children and mothers forced to beg on the streets to survive. I recently visited Istanbul and saw firsthand the considerable number of Syrian children wandering the streets alone.

One night while walking through the rain to my hotel, I saw a small boy, no more than 5 years old — barefoot, shivering and visibly terrified — sitting under an awning. As I placed the coins I had (a pitifully small amount) in his tiny hand, he could barely manage the energy to look up at me. I cried as I walked away. What good is it to come from a country of such wealth and power, I thought, to live a life of privilege, and not be able to protect one boy from starvation or the predators who will eventually find him?

The majority of Syrians who have fled since 2011 are in neighboring countries that are unable to bear the burden of millions of people shattered by civil war. To quote the president’s 2015 National Security Strategy: “In an interconnected world, there are no global problems that can be solved without the United States, and few that can be solved by the United States alone.” Do we choose the path of nobility or selfish indifference? Remember, the world is watching to see how we respond, and it will respond accordingly.

With that in mind, the editorial board should reconsider its stance in “Rescuing Refugees” (Jan. 30). The notion that “national security must trump compassion” is ill-formed logic. National security and compassion are not mutually exclusive. Turning our backs on what Antonio Guterres, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, called “the biggest humanitarian crisis of our era” will move us quite far down the wrong path.