Syria’s hunting season

File - Syrian refugees children play outside their tent at a Syrian refugee camp in the eastern town of Marj in Bekaa valley, Lebanon June 29, 2014.(AP/Bilal Hussein)

The U.N. refugee agency Friday updated the world on refugee numbers from war-torn Syria, where half the population has either fled abroad or is internally displaced.

A whopping 3 million Syrian refugees are outside their homeland, as UNHCR scrambles to deal with the “biggest humanitarian crisis of our era.” And while Friday’s news highlighted the situation in Syria, people from that country along with Palestinians, Somalis and Sudanese, make up half of the world refugee population. North Africa has long suffered from the problem, while the collapse of Iraq is adding to this region’s woes.

It is a mark of shame to see so many refugees in this region, due to war, sectarian and ethnic violence, the lack of economic opportunity or the lack of personal freedoms.

The Arab world has tremendous financial and natural resources, but tremendous levels of waste and mismanagement encourage people to leave, while regimes are indifferent about the crisis. The human hemorrhaging of these countries is only picking up pace, but the issue has yet to enter the priority list of ruling regimes and their officials.

And in Syria, it came as no surprise this week to see state media cover the “news” that officials were meeting to discuss a final draft of a new hunting law, designed to protect bird populations.

The news represented the mindset of officials who feel no shame in seeing millions of people driven from their homes, apparently unaware that the real hunting problem that needs to be addressed is the hunting of humans, not animals.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on August 30, 2014, on page 7.




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