Many hundred thousands of people – many of them children without their parents – are coming to Europe right now, seeking our help. They have fled their homes where war, terror and poverty have made life unbearable. The NewsNuggets team has looked into the background.
Refugees come from war-torn countries, particularly Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan. The global charity Red Cross estimates that 50 million people had to flee their homes last year, and that there are more than 13 million refugees in the world today, three million of them from Syria. Last year 51% of refugees were under 18 years old.
Most refugees are forced away from their homes. They flee to safer parts of their own country, or they try to go abroad. Many do not reach a rich country where they can start a new life, but end up in camps with many other people. Life in the camps is often desperate, with little food, bad hygiene, and very little to do for the children.
People coming to Europe right now are mainly people fleeing from Syria because of the civil war that is going on there. Civil war means that people within one country are fighting each other. In Syria the situation is very complicated with the old government, led by a man named Assad, fighting a popular resistance movement, but also an Islamist terrorist organisation called Islamic State (IS or ISIS). Many foreign countries are also involved in trying to support the different sides in the war, including Russia, USA, UK, Iran and some Arabic states.
The refugees who flee are trying to move to Australia, Lebanon and the richer countries in Europe. Most refugees end up in nearby countries, such as Turkey and Lebanon. Lebanon is a small neighbour that has only four million inhabitants, but has taken in one million Syrians fleeing the war. Britain has so far only taken in a few hundred refugees, but is giving large sums of money in humanitarian help.
Weapons are always nasty, but in the Syrian and Iraqi wars, particularly inhuman weapons have been used, such as drones, heat rays, tanks, mines, fighter jets and machine guns. The most devastating ones are chemical weapons like the nerve agent Sarin. Chemical weapons are forbidden by the United Nations because they target civilians (people who are not soldiers), and create immense suffering. They are considered particularly unfair.
We hear a lot about terrorists, because of their awful deeds in Syria, but also because people here in the UK are scared of attacks happening here. But what is a terrorist?
Terrorists believe that the only way to solve problems is to use violence. The main group of terrorists in Syria is Islamic State. A terrorist uses fear to achieve political goals. Islamic State want their new country (they rule parts of Iraq and Syria right now) to be run by Sharia law. The Sharia law is put together by the rules that are stated in the Qua’ran, and appear very harsh to us with punishments such as stoning and cutting off hands. When you are not prepared to talk things over, beliefs can make you want to use violence.
Terrorists often have disguises to look threatening and to not be recognized.
By: The NewsNugget team