CF Hosts Panel on Migrant Crisis

Panel discussion housed in  the Ewers Century Center

Panel discussion housed in the Ewers Century Center

CF hosted a panel discussion on the global migrant crisis currently at hand on March 3, 2016 in the Ewers Century Center at the Ocala Campus from 12:30 p.m. to 1:45 p.m. The panel discussed the current issues the world is facing with the amount of immigrants coming from the Middle East, as well as possible solutions to the crisis.

The panel consisted of Fullbright Scholar Dr. Reema Safadi from the University of Jordan, and UCF graduate student studying the global refugee crisis, Adam Kersch. The panel was moderated by CF Professor of Social Sciences Dr. John Anene.

Safadi was the first speaker in the discussion, initially discussing the growing population of foreign nationals and refugees in her own country of Jordan. The population distribution of the nation consists of 39.7 percent non-Jordanian people, over a third of the population. “It’s a very complicated problem effected by national, regional, and global politics” said Safadi. As of 2015, there are over two million refugees in Jordan from Palestine alone, 370,000 of which still reside in refugee camps.

From left to right: Dr. John Anene, Dr. Reema Safadi , and Adam Kersch

From left to right: Dr. John Anene, Dr. Reema Safadi , and Adam Kersch

The Syrian civil war was the hot topic on the panel. Over seven million people are displaced from Syria since the start of the civil war in 2011, with nearly one million migrating to Jordan alone. A refugee camp in Jordan was described as the fourth-largest city in the nation of Jordan. The Jordanian Armed Forces has spent over 600 million in Jordanian dinar, the Jordanian currency, on the Syrian refugee crisis.

The issues of providing resources for the immigrants is the biggest problem for the Jordanians. “Jordan is the third-poorest country in the world in terms of water” said Safadi. This creates major struggle in providing for the immigrants. Native Jordanians have suffered shortages due to the immigrant crisis, according to Safadi. This is a serious dilemma when providing for another nation’s people starts to affect a nation’s ability to provide for its own. “Jordan needs real financial aids and real solutions,” said Safadi.

Kersch followed Safadi with his studies of the migrant issues effecting Europe, specifically Italy. Kersch presented the status of immigration in Italy and how Italy responds to the issue of these immigrants. The EU has policies in place to accept immigrants into member states. In Italy, migrants have an advantage with access to medical service since they are on Italian soil.

Immigrants funnel through the island of Sicily in the southern region of Italy. Sicily is known for having mafia-influenced government, as well as being one of the poorest regions of Italy. Thus, resources to provide for migrants are not as substantial as in Germany. Migrants are given 35 euros a month to spend for documented migrants in Italy, whereas in Germany they are given 300 euros.

Due to the poverty and unemployment rate in Sicily, it is rare for migrants to be able to find work. It is easier for migrants to be preyed upon by the mafia, or to be used for illicit purposes, such as smuggling drugs. “This is more than just a political problem,” said Kersch.

After the initial presentations by the panelists, the floor was open for audience questions. Many participants had questions on the state of the U.S. involvement in the issue and how it stacks up against other countries. “Germany has taken one million refugees alone,” said Anene. “The U.S. has not done its fair share in helping.”

The panel brought new awareness to audience members, giving them a personal view of the crisis facing these countries, and the distance U.S. citizens have from these issues.

Story by: Timothy Ross


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