Article for Syrian refugees In our world today the refugee crisis in the Middle East and specifically the Syrian civil war which unfortunately in part spawned the caliphate known as Isis, have been on the forefront in the news and political debates in the US as well as Europe. Now with the horrific and devastating massacre of innocent lives in Paris, for which Isis has claimed responsibility, the issue of the refugee crisis has become even more in the forefront of discussion, not only for the politicians but a dinner table discussion among many concerned and informed people. What will be the fate be of the Syrian refugees after the latest events spawning outrage and more anti-refugee sentiment? The Syrians fleeing their homeland do so to save themselves from unspeakable horrors not only from their government who has been killing their own citizens, but also from Isis. I could not imagine living in such a quagmire that leaves you little choice but to leave your homeland and begin a dangerous and unknown journey to escape such horror. In Greece there has been an enormous daily influx of Syrian, Afghan and other refugees pouring onto the Greek Islands from neighboring Turkey, eventually making their way onto the mainland. The Greek government has estimated a total of about 4000 refugees per day. This past August I was in Greece visiting family and friends. As I traveled into Central Athens on my second day, I walked out of the subway at a central square and was met by many refugee families sitting around the square in the early morning and along the steps of a fountain. Having an inquisitive and investigative nature, I approached some of the extended families and ask about their lives and journey that has taken them thus far to Athens. With hand gestures and some able to speak limited English I put together quite a harrowing and life threatening journey that these families had endured. One young man when I asked if he was Syrian nodded yes and then proceeded with hand gestures to depict bombs falling from the sky and ran his hand across his throat meaning to say they are escaping the brutality of daily bombings which have killed so many innocent Syrian men, women and children. Several days later I met someone that told me of a refugee camp in a large park in central Athens. I immediately decided that I would visit the camp the next day with my camera in hand to witness and document my experience. So the next day I walked into the camp and first came across a large number of refugees in line leading up to a van that was distributing food in the morning. I readied my camera and began shooting dozens of photos of a day in the life of a refugee camp. The camp was a mix of Syrian and ethnic Hazara refugees from Northern Afghanistan. I stayed at the camp for several hours photographing whatever I could. Later on I Spoke with Greek aid workers who were overseeing this camp about their work and challenges feeding and addressing medical problems of such a large group. The Greek people working in the camp all volunteered their services. The Greek government at this time had its hands full collecting the refugees that have been pouring on their shores, housing and documenting them before going on their way to northern Europe, but with the large influx of refugees every day the makeshift government camps were just overwhelmed and could not house everyone. So the Greek volunteers were certainly a welcoming sight for these refugees in this makeshift camp which would be in dire straits if not for the compassion of these people. I thought about the images I witnessed in the news of the makeshift rafts that crossed the sea, wondering what harrowing stories these people could tell of their journey to reach the shores of Greece as I went about photographing their lives.
Since I have had the opportunity to witness what a refugee endures on a daily basis to save their lives and find a better and peaceful life for themselves and their family, I believe it would be morally reprehensible to deny these refugees passage to the US as many politicians have suggested. Some have gone as far as suggesting only Christians be allowed. Really? I find it hard to believe that a politician running for the highest position in the land would even consider say such a statement. Perhaps some politicians would say anything for votes. This is not what this country has stood for since its existence. The major European countries such as France, England and Germany have taken in thousands of Syrian, Afghan and other refugees. It is our moral duty to join them. The president of France, Francois Hollande recently came out and said despite the attacks in his country it will accept 30,000 refugees over the next 2 years. We will stay true to our beliefs he was quoted as saying. We need more men like him who are strong but morally true to his beliefs in humanity. The refugees entering this country would have to go through multiple layers of security and scrutiny before being allowed to enter. The US has the best intelligence gathering in the world and agencies like Homeland security, FBI and others would certainly check every single refugee thoroughly that would be applying for asylum. I will end by mentioning that I was a refugee of sorts once. I was born in a country that at the time was considered a poor and developing country. I was orphaned at an early age. Eventually I was adopted by American parents and given a better and rewarding life. If there had been such sanctions on me for being Muslim or some other religion that was chastised at that time who knows what would have happened to me or would I even be alive today. One thing is for sure you would never have read this article and never had the opportunity to see these precious photos.