The flood of Syrian refugees into neighbouring countries and Europe—with over 12.2 million Syrians currently in need of humanitarian assistance—stems from the Syrian civil war, which began in the spring of 2011. It all started when security forces, under the control of President Bashar al-Assad, shot pro-democracy protesters. This violence resulted in the civil war that continues today.
The West’s militarized response to the civil war and the Islamic State has contributed greatly to the destabilization of the region over the past four years. Women’s groups in Syria and neighbouring Iraq have called for peaceful solutions to the conflict and for inclusion in diplomatic negotiations—to no avail.
Some argue the roots of the crisis date back before the Arab Spring. The violent intervention of Western nations in the region began with the invasion of Afghanistan in 2002 and the invasion of Iraq in 2003, and continues to this day. These violent interventions have resulted in political and economic instability in the Middle East. This instability has laid the foundation for the violent political uprisings.
The ongoing conflict and resulting refugee crisis are extremely difficult to resolve because of the large number of players with opposing ideologies and differing interests in the conflict. Furthermore, Syria has a long history of violent repression that further complicates efforts to achieve a sustainable peace in the region. The international community’s feeble response to the refugee crisis and its focus on protecting the security of borders over human rights has exacerbated the current crisis.
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