Hundreds of thousands of refugees from Syria have been leaving their homes in search of safety and assistance since the country’s civil war began in 2011. The refugees have been fleeing civil war, persecution and poverty—traveling at great lengths and great risk to survive. As of September 2015, it is estimated that over 200,000 Syrians have been killed, 7.6 million people have been internally displaced within the country and another 4.1million have dispersed across the Middle East. Hundreds of thousands have also made their way to Europe, often through a dangerous boat trip on the Mediterranean from Turkey to Greece, which has resulted in thousands of deaths. Further, people fleeing other parts of the Middle East and Africa due to instability and poverty have added to the large numbers. Referred to as the “largest refugee crisis in Europe since World War II,” it made international headlines recently when a photograph of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy went viral. The image of Aylan Kurdi’s dead body on the shores of Turkey seems to have awakened our collective sense of urgency.
This lesson provides an opportunity for students to learn more about the refugee crisis through reading and viewing photographic images and exploring what nations around the world are doing in response to the crisis and what they can do to help.