The lull in the chemical weapon crisis offers a chance to divert attention to the huge flow of refugees leaving Syria and rethink some misguided assumptions about their future.
About one-tenth of Syria's 22 million residents have fled across an international border, mostly to neighboring Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey. Unable to cope, their governments are restricting entry, prompting international concern about the Syrians' plight. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, suggests that his agency (as the Guardian paraphrases him) "look to resettle tens of thousands of Syrian refugees in countries better able to afford to host them," recalling the post-2003 Iraqi resettlement program, when 100,000 Iraqis resettled in the West. Others also look instinctively to the West for a solution; the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, for example, has called on Western states "to do more" for Syrian refugees.
The appeal has been heard: Canada has offered to take 1,300 Syrian refugees and the United States 2,000. Italy has received 4,600 Syrian refugees by sea. Germany has offered to take (and has begun receiving) 5,000. Sweden has offered asylum to the 15,000 Syrians already in that country. Local groups are preparing for a substantial influx throughout the West.