Putting the worldwide refugee crisis in context

Somalian family adapts to two worlds

My story about a Somali family’s journey

I pulled a box full of newspapers out of our guest room closet last night to find a 2009 story I wrote about a family of Somali refugees living in Columbia.

This was the second family I had interviewed for two stories I wrote for The Columbia Star.

Both families served hot shah, a chai-like drink, while I interviewed them during that hot summer. I watched them as they fought to hold onto their cultures, and as they fought to give their children safety and a chance at a happy life.

I’ve thought about these families constantly following this month’s Paris attacks, which have inspired a renewed xenophobia.

And while I’m not entirely sure exactly what our response should be to the displaced people of Syria, a couple of points occur to me.

Despite the threat stemming from opening our gates to Syrian refugees, I think we have to examine our role in displacing 4.3 million Syrians. ISIS is terrorizing the region with American military equipment. The U.S. has a long history of arming rebels to fight our enemies in the region and returning to fight them the next decade.

I also find our reaction to the refugees ironic. In FY 2014 more than 19,000 of the nearly 70,000 refugees resettled in the U.S. were Iraqis. Forty of S.C.’s 121 refugees resettled here were from Iraq. One-hundred and twenty thousand Iraqi refugees have resettled in the U.S. since 2007.

And none of us noticed.

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