USCRI: U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants

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A Message from Ken Leung, USCRI Board Member

Ken Leung—USCRI Board Member and actor best known for his roles in LOST and Person of Interest—is a tireless advocate for refugees and immigrants. He has traveled alongside USCRI on fact-finding trips to Ethiopia, Ecuador, and Thailand. Below, Ken shares his thoughts on the Syria refugee crisis.


Even if we have never experienced war firsthand, we watch the news, and read, and talk to other people who have never experienced it, and we make a decision, form an opinion, take a position—even when it’s unfathomable to us, and even when we don’t watch or read or talk. It must serve a basic human need.

What if we imagined the brave men and women who fight these wars on our behalf not as armored soldiers but as thousands and thousands of pulsing hearts, each with a target slapped on it? Would the senselessness be more obvious or obscure?

So far, the conflict in Syria has produced 2 million refugees and half of them are children. Last November, some friends at USCRI traveled to Jordan to survey the camps being set up to receive them. Those camps have grown exponentially since then. Za'atari camp near the border, which served tens of thousands of refugees at the time, today serves over 130,000—greater than the population of Topeka, Kansas—and an overflow camp is already being constructed.

There must be too many factors that go into such coordinated madness for any single person to comprehend. But maybe we don't need to comprehend it to have an opinion about it. Likewise, maybe we don't need to be forced from our homes or sit in a camp for months and years to take a position about refugees. Maybe, while those who know much more than us wrangle over the politics and corporate interests and whatever other complicated factors go into the madness, we can remember the millions of people who are basically stuck, waiting for their homes to be safe to return to, even if we've never experienced such a thing.

©2011 USCRI
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