Writer: Dhruva Nistane is a debator who discusses current issues and wants to bring attention to Syrian refugees by writing abut their hardships.
As privileged teenagers living in developed nations, we are barely affected by the statistics we see. They feel cold to us. However, the stories of the refugee crisis, which are devastating, give us insight into the world’s of these refugees. They make it real. Now that our voices have caused change in the way countries are slowly allowing refugees to enter the country, we face a new roadblock. We fail to realize the fact that there is no infrastructure set up in the countries that refugees are flocking, to sustain them. With the relatively opulent countries driving refugees away, refugees are being forced to enter less developed nations in the Middle East or Africa through harsh routes and modes of transportation. When the survivors are able to persevere through grim conditions with the help of smugglers or sheer luck,they are faced with an even larger void. They have nothing. No money. No shelter. No provisions. They have left it all behind in hope of reaching a better place. Little do they know…
Exploitation. This is what the refugees stumble upon as they step out of their rubber dinghies and are able to get through the floods of people attempting to enter the country.
This is what one boy, Yassan faces. As a 14 year old in Jordan, his father is paralyzed from the waist down due to being tortured back in Syria, where he emigrated from, and his mother has a life-threatening blood condition. For this reason, the responsibility of providing for the family falls to Yassan. Yassan works at least 12 hours a day as a cleaner every day of the week, and receives much less than minimum wage. He is unable to take even a day off, as his family is already 1,000 euros in debt. The job of cleaning for less than half of minimum wage is the best job he could find, as the Jordanians are given both better pay and first choice for jobs. With children like Yassan working without rest, for their families, business owners are exploiting refugees especially in the agriculture sector. Thus, a new slave market full of refugees has developed. This goes to show the discrimination against refugees and the lack of available opportunities present for refugees as they come into new countries.
However, there is more than just a new slave labor group forming in these underdeveloped countries to exploit refugees, there is also the exploitation of Syrian girls and women. With the Syrian refugee women leaving it all behind, they are virtually powerless against smugglers and police officers who have the the power to exploit refugees with little to no consequences. Where refugee camps are set up, there are no separate facilities for men and women to sleep, eat, shower, or use the bathroom. This environment promotes a behavior of abuse, with women having no protection from irrational men. Thus, women refugees rights and safety are not at all protected on an already dangerous quest for a better life. This leads to women not getting enough sleep from paranoia or even not eating so they would not have to use the bathroom. At certain transit camps in Europe, officials and guards too, have exploited women in return for better treatment or basic provisions such as food for their children. Furthermore, smugglers exploit women who hope to reach safety as well. A woman from Aleppo turned down giving a smuggler sexual favors in return for a lower price to seek freedom through his smuggling business. Other stories speak of smugglers groping women they are traveling with while they are alone. This leads to women living in constant fear of men being able to abuse them, and leads to trauma.
Now that refugees are slowly able to immigrate undeveloped or developing nations for a better life and make it further in the refugee quest, they are seeing the opening of a whole new Pandora’s Box. In order to tackle this issue of exploitation we must find its root causes. The main reasons exploitations are occurring both on the way to safety and at the alleged location of safety, is a lack of infrastructure and regulation. The refugees do not have clear enough rights or enforcement of these rights. Thus, refugees have become part of a feeding ground for businesses to generate illegal profits. This has also led to countries being able to severely restrict the rights of refugees. Furthermore, there is an overall lack of infrastructure. This pertains to both the refugee transit camps and the countries themselves. With the transit camps having no separate facilities for men and women, and filthy conditions, women are abused. Furthermore, with the lack of safe and legal routes to safety, the black market industry of smuggling is justified, and smugglers are able to exploit refugees.
It is imperative that we, as one voice, find a way to end this new realm of exploitations, and make sure the refuges are not entering a hell worse than the one they fled from.