By Sal Bommarito
The humanitarian issues in and around Iraq and Syria continue to worsen. The New York Times reports that Lebanon now requires refugees to have visas to enter the country.
The United Nations has announced that there are more refugees worldwide than any other time since World War II. In no place is the situation deteriorating as rapidly as in the countries surrounding the Islamic State. “The wave of people fleeing war, oppression and extreme poverty has overwhelmed regional governments and promoted humanitarian organizations to press wealthier nations to take in a larger number of refugees.”
The three main recipients of refugees, Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon, are beginning to come to grips with the long-term issues of such a huge influx of destitute migrants. Turkey is attempting to integrate “more than one million Syrians it is hosting.” It is “granting access to education and social services. But Lebanon and Jordan are “making it harder for Syrians to enter, and more difficult for them to work and receive services once they arrive.”
Lebanon has a population of 4 million citizens. It has taken in 1.1 million of registered refugees and another 500,000 of unregistered migrants, or about 40% of its total population.
It was totally expected that this day would come. How long could the migration continue before citizens of the recipient countries began to object? Their generosity to this point is noteworthy, but with such an influx, political, financial and social strains have taken a toll.
The question is what will happen to those unable to escape the cruel ISIS fighters? Will there be mass executions and genocide if ISIS continues to prosper? And how will the U.S. respond? Bombing missions alone will not save the millions already in jeopardy.
Looking ahead, how will Iraq and Syria change when the hostilities end? The answer, as I see it, may surprise you.
Iraq has a continuing source of income- oil sales. It will be able to care for the people who survive the ISIS onslaught. It should be noted that Shiite and Sunni factions have not negotiated a division of power and wealth, and may never do so. If this holds true, Iraq will segue into another violent civil war if ISIS is ultimately defeated.
Syria’s mass exodus of citizens will leave it destitute. It is unclear how the country will be able to support itself. Also, if ISIS is defeated, most countries in the region and the U.S. will push for Bashar al-Assad to relinquish power. With the support of Iran, this many not happen without further conflict.
Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon will have to contend with swollen populations that are rife with refugees who bring little and need much. How will Lebanon deal with a 40%+ increase in its population?
The odyssey of the refugees and their impact on the region has been under reported. It is reaching a climactic stage. Those countries without oil revenues will be hard pressed to care for all those who need services. More death, famine and bigotry are likely.