The Syrian civil war has created an understandable influx of refugees into other countries. The neighbors in countries around Syria have absorbed the majority of the more than 4,3 million people fleeing the conflict, but countries around Europe have also been doing what they can.
Germany with 81 million people has taken approximately 360 000 people in 2015. Next down the list is Sweden, with 9,8 million taking 78 000 people. After that is The Netherlands, with 17 million people taking 36 000 people. So basically compared to population, Sweden has been handling proportionally way more Syrian refugees.
This is amazing and I think it is a testament to the character of Sweden as a nation to step up and help in a real way because it is the right thing to do. It is not without national debate, because taking these people does put a massive strain on the systems that are in place, and taking this many refugees makes you ask real questions about helping them in the right way, responsibly. But it is still amazing that it has and is happening to try to do a good thing and help these people.
I had to go to Stockholm today and at one stop on the train ride back home (about 3 hours north), I saw a Syrian family get on the train. A father, hands clinging to a packet from “migrationsverket,” which is surely the most important possession he has – this envelop likely contained their new address and instructions, as well as important documentation. A mother carrying a child about the age of my son, and a daughter, maybe 6 years old. This family was dressed in old and obviously donated winter clothing, no newer than the early 2000’s. The girl didn’t care, she seemed to be most amazed by their journey. The parents were confused and just trying to figure out where to sit. These were not old people, but I tell you the look at fatigue in their eyes was notable. They looked tired, relieved, and wary.
Can you imagine a situation where life is so dangerous and threatening that you literally have to leave everything you know behind and go far away and start over with just your family, while you are relying on a government and their system to give you the tools you need to start over again? I cannot imagine what they are going thru emotionally, spiritually, and mentally.
So here I sit. Can I do something for these people? I bought a book for my son today, should I give it to them instead? What about the chocolate I brought with me, would the little girl like it? Or am I supposed to ignore them?
I mean, maybe in the midst of all the different experiences they are having, just allowing them the anonymity of fitting into the crowd on the train is the most human, caring thing I can do. Personally I just want to go give them all a hug and reassure them that everything will be ok. It will be. Sweden’s got their back, and they are here now.