Syrian refugees; one train crash away





This week the courses for my minor ‘Responsible Innovations’ really started off. In Delft we were confronted with series of dilemma’s concerning responsibility of their stakeholders, ethics and ways of finding solutions to the occurring problems.

The streams of Syrian refugees entering Europe have been dominating the media the past week. No one appears to know where to shelter them and no one seems to take responsibility for their well-being. This is why the topic makes such good example for a dilemma. 

I would like to use the ‘Trolley dilemma’ as a metaphor for the situation in which the European governments currently are;

In the trolley dilemma is a run-away train, representing the major influx of refugees, on the verge of killing five persons that are tied to the rails.
These five persons symbolize the many people that would die if Europe will keep on denying to take in more refugees.

On a side track, connected to the rails by a switch, is a 6th person tied to the rails. This 6th person would be the people currently living in Europe that are against sheltering all those many refugees. 
At the side of the tracks, a passenger sees the situations and is able to pull a lever. The passenger, in this case, is the European governments. Pulling the lever will change the switch ahead of the train, causing it to take the side track. In this situation the train would kill only the 6th person.

If Europe chooses to take the dilemma to the 6th  person's side of the story, the government will feel the fury of their own population. The same fury that the minister of social affaires Lodewijk Asscher encountered recently, when he tried to explain people why an asylum centre for the refugees will be build in 'their backyard'.

This metaphor provides perspective to which responsibility our government has towards the refugees. After all, everyone would agree that abandoning the refugees to their own fate is wrong. Unfortunately, pulling the lever and actively killing the 6th person would be wrong as well.
One would ultimately have to conclude that the passenger isn’t able to make a right choice, as all the possible answers are wrong.

A better solution would be to not put all responsibility on the last agent; the passenger/Europe governments. The solution has to be found in the core of the problem rather than to blame an innocent man for whichever choice he has to make in his dire position. In the case of the refugee problem, this reasoning eventually will lead to the understanding of the necessity of stopping the terrible civil war in Syria which has led to the major streams of refugees.

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Responsibility lays largely in the hands of the Syrian government and its rebels. Putting an end to this war and giving twelve million people back their homes should be their main concern. Instead, they choose to bomb each other. Clearly, these parties cannot come to a solution for their problems. That is why military intervention by Europe, Turkey and the Gulf-states is needed.
The Syrian government and it’s rebels has made this war just as much our problem as it is theirs by forcing their citizens onto our borders. Therefor I call out to the United Nations to finally intervene, so 12.000.000 humans can return to their homelands, as well as allowing whole Europe to breath peacefully again.