Syrian Refugees Napkin Math


Cost of the rubber raft meant to transport the Kurdi family from Turkey to Greece  = $4450

Number of Kurdi family members to survive trip = 1

Age of Aylan Kurdi, the youngest family member drowned at sea = 3 years

Age of his drowned brother, Ghalib = 5 years

Syrian refugees drowned or missing at sea seeking safer home in 2015 = 2500


Syrians currently displaced due to Syrian civil war and ISIL activity = 12 million

Syrians dead = 250,000

Syrian refugees = 4 million


Broken down:

Refugees that are children = approximately 50%

Syrian refugees in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, and Lebanon = 2.1 million

Syrian refugees in Turkey = 1.9 million

Syrian refugees in North Africa = 24,000


Broken (breaking down) down further:

Ratio of Syrians to Lebanese in Lebanon = 1 in 5

Syrian refugee children absorbed in Lebanon schools = 90,000

Syrian refugee children in Lebanon not yet absorbed in schools = 295,000



Syrian refugees who began walking from Hungary to Austria during the Labor Day weekend because conditions in Hungarian refugee camps were deplorable = 1000 plus

Distance from Budapest, Hungary to Vienna, Austria’s capital = 155 miles

Number of dead refugees found in the (airless) back of abandoned truck on Austrian highway = 71


Price of international attention = young Aylan’s life

Resettlement spots pledged by entire international community as of the night of Aylan’s fateful crossing = 104,000



Syrian refugees promised acceptance into Germany = 800,000

(Population of San Francisco = near 800,000)

(Average price each Syrian refugee has been paying people smugglers to get to Germany = $3000)

Syrian refugees promised acceptance into the UK = 20,000

Syrian refugees promised acceptance into France = 24,000

Syrian refugees promised acceptance into Poland = 2000

Syrian refugees promised acceptance into Australia = 12,000

Syrian refugees promised acceptance into Canada = 11,300 (plus, depending on upcoming elections)

Syrian refugee families to be sheltered by the Vatican = 2

Syrian refugees who would find shelter if every Catholic parish, convent, monastery, and sanctuary in Europe took in one family of refugees, as per the Pope’s request = tens of thousands


UN High Commission for Refugees referrals to US prior to Aylan’s fateful crossing = 12,000

Syrian refugees actually admitted to US since 2011 = 1500

Syrian refugees now promised acceptance by the US = 10,0000


Funds required by UNHCR to assist Syrian refugees in 2015 = $4.5 billion

Funds UNHCR had received from international community, in 2015, as of the night of Aylan’s fateful crossing = $ 1.8 billion


Photos captured of drowned Syrian refugee children to lend international attention to the humanitarian tragedy = 2 (both of 3-year-old Aylan)

Size of the Kurdi’s $4450 rubber raft = 15 feet

Swell of waves in Mediterranean Sea during this season of the Meltemi winds = 5 to 15 feet

Syrian refugees rescued by Greek coast guard from the Mediterranean Sea over the 2015 Labor Day weekend = 2500

Waves that lapped at 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi’s cheek while he lay dead on shore = unconfirmed

Cost of a collective blind eye = unconfirmed

Future for millions of Syrian refugees = still unconfirmed

Chantal Corcoran is a Canadian immigrant (not a refugee—these words are not synonymous) residing in Las Vegas, Nevada. She’s also an MFA graduate of the Bennington Writing Seminars and a 2016 Pushcart Prize nominee. Her nonfiction has appeared in The Chronicle Review and The Chronicle of Higher Education. Her fiction can be found at Litro, The Milo Review, Lost Magazine and Monkey Bicycle. She occasionally writes book reviews for The Common and for various Las Vegas publications. Usually, she prefers words to numbers—but, in this case, the numbers are most telling. More from this author →