While President Donald Trump's address to the nation suggested that he and his counterparts in France and the United Kingdom launched airstrikes out of concern for Syrian civilians, a number of critics pointed out that the leaders have shown little compassion for those same innocent people as nations have debated taking in Syrian refugees in recent months.
It is disgusting that our government will likely drop more bombs on Syria than the number of Syrian refugees it has allowed to enter the US this year. https://t.co/FRnTdWMMfn
— Angel Padilla (@AngelRafPadilla) April 13, 2018
Under Trump, the number of Syrian refugees who have been granted asylum and resettled by the U.S. has plummeted, dropping from more than 12,000 in 2016 to half that number last year. Less than 100 of the war-torn nation's 5.5 million refugees are expected to be allowed into the U.S. by the end of the current fiscal year in September.
"If the Trump administration truly cares about the fate of Syrian civilians, it can do far better in resettling Syrian refugees," wrote the International Rescue Committee on Friday evening. "More than 40 people were reportedly killed in the suspected chemical attack on Douma, in the Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta. That is as many Syrians who have been admitted to the United States as refugees this year."
In the UK, Labour politician David Lammy condemned his fellow members of Parliament for opposing the resettlement of refugee children, as some officials supported Prime Minister Theresa May's decision to march in lockstep with Trump, launching airstrikes on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's chemical weapons infrastructure.
Any MPs supporting military action and air strikes: do you remember the night in Spring 2016 when Parliament voted down the Dubs amendment to take in a few thousand children fleeing war and bloodshed in Syria? Reflect on why you now prioritise air strikes over taking in refugees.
— David Lammy (@DavidLammy) April 14, 2018
In both the U.S. and the U.K., public opinion has strongly favored resettling refugees from Syria. Fifty-seven percent of Americans surveyed by Quinnipiac University urged their government to take in Syrians a year ago, after Trump launched airstrikes in the country following another suspected chemical attack.
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Grassroots activists in the U.K. have urged their government to welcome more asylum-seekers from Syria, while May has resisted, preferring to send aid to Middle Eastern countries to keep refugees in the region.
In a poll taken by the Clarion Project this week, more than 58 percent of Americans responded that the U.S. should not launch strikes against Syria in the wake of the apparent attack on Douma, while a similar poll by Verdict in the U.K. showed that only 22 percent of Britons supported military intervention.
Trump critics on social media expressed doubt that the president's concerned rhetoric regarding Syrian civilians would give way to a policy change regarding their resettlement.
Now that our president has invoked the children as a reason to attack Syria over Assad’s use of chemical weapons, is there any hope he’ll stop dehumanizing them and their families as he rails against them and leads America to turn its back on desperate war refugees fleeing Assad?
— Walter Shaub (@waltshaub) April 14, 2018
A military intervention in Syria will only mean more suffering and more lives needlessly lost. If President Trump is serious about helping the Syrian people, he should provide a safe haven for Syrian refugees who are fleeing violence.
— Ro Khanna (@RoKhanna) April 13, 2018
So far this year Donald Trump's America has accepted just 11 Syrian refugees and Britain isn't much better. So it's galling to hear Theresa May talk about the urgent need to bomb Syria to save the lives of innocents. #NotInMyNameTheresaMay
— Harry Leslie Smith (@Harryslaststand) April 14, 2018
Donald Trump has slammed the door shut on Syrian refugees. He clearly doesn’t give a shit about Syria. He’s using them as an excuse to drop bombs so he can distract us from his scandals. All without congressional authorization.
— Adam Best (@adamcbest) April 14, 2018