Family & Conflict in Syria

Many of us have heard or read about the current challenges being faced by people of Syria The conflict, which has already reached the dimensions of a disaster, has a central place in the contemporary agenda. Today, religious leaders, non-governmental organizations, and political leaders at the local and global level are calling for the implementation of urgent measures to pacify the region. Last Thursday, for example, Pope Francis described the conflicts in as “one of the most overwhelming human tragedies of recent decades,” urging for a non-violent solution of the problem. Also, the head of the Syriac Orthodox Church, Mor Ignatius Aphrem II, pressured officials “to be more attentive and active in the international coalition and community, to try to bring a solution to the issues in Syria and Iraq.”

The international community answered, one more time, to the cry for help in Syria. A family of seven Syrian refugees arrived at Saskatoon’s airport, sponsored by their Syrian-Canadian relative, Carlos Arslanian. Carlos told the media he decided to go through with the sponsorship when, while Skyping with his relatives in Syria, he heard could hear bombings. It is really touching to hear how Carlos, who left Syria when he was just six months old, and who, according to CBC, saw his cousin only once as a child was so motivated by his emotional bonds with his family that he decided to act.

Our UofT community is also getting active in support of Syrian refugees. Since 2007, UTM has received nine refugee students sponsored by the World University Service of Canada Since the beginning of the Syrian crisis, there have been many conferences and all kinds of activities regarding the problem of refugees and immigration; various groups are tweeting and posting information through social media channels. All this efforts are designed, I believe, to create awareness in our community about the challenges people around the world are facing. Everyone, at home, can further this hard work: we can create awareness and a sense of global responsibility in our kids, share some of the successful stories we hear about, or actively participate in events. Kids have an amazing ability to feel empathy: we can, as parents, encourage them to develop this ability to feel with others, to experience what others are experiencing.

To learn about the events the University is hosting, click here. To find some interesting information about the Syrian crisis, UNICEF’s website is a great place to start. To know more about the sponsorship of refugees program in Canada, click here.

* Joe Carens, professor of UofT’s Department of Political Science, won the 2014 C.B. Macpherson Prize for the best book in political theory written by a Canadian. Joe’s book, The Ethics of Immigration (Oxford University Press, 2013) is a great option for those interested in the contemporary discussions about migration.