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What a Syrian conflict would look like in the U.S.

Published: Friday, June 20 2014 6:15 a.m. MDT

Sryian security celebrate Bashar Assad's presidential re-election in Damascus, Syria, Wednesday, June 4, 2014. Assad has been re-elected in a landslide, officials said Wednesday, capturing another seven-year term in the middle of a bloody 3-year-old uprising against his rule that has devastated the country.

Dusan Vranic, Associated Press

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As the ongoing crisis in Syria continues, new reports examine what a mass exodus of citizens would mean in the United States and other countries if they were rife with a nationwide conflict.

The death toll estimates in Syria have reached more than 162,000, and more than 9 million people have fled the country.

If that happened in the U.S., "New York City's bustling metropolis of 8.3 million people would be deserted entirely: The beaming Times Square would be dark, empty and war-torn, and people would flee to other less populated cities and towns. The 145,000 people living in the upstate city of Syracuse would be dead," writes PolicyMic's Sara Afzal.

According to the report, 6.5 million Americans would run to nearby states, and 2.8 million would register as refugees in Canada, Mexico and Europe. All 4.3 million children in the state of New York would be forced to leave their homes. "America would expect better," the website says.

The report refers to the picture painted by If We Were Syrian, which makes comparisons to the U.S., Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom. The organization's stated aims are to help people "imagine the crisis in our own country" and "help you picture what the death and displacement tolls would mean for a nation you know well … since we can't fathom the scale of the crisis."

Al Jazeera also has an interactive map using U.S. Census data to show what 9 million people in local areas looks like.

"The Syrian humanitarian crisis has reached unimaginable proportions: 160,000 people dead and over 9 million people displaced. Since we can’t fathom the scale of the crisis, we’re not doing enough about it — not opening our borders enough, and not giving enough aid," the website says.

"It also forces Americans to imagine being in the shoes of people who they may think are very different from themselves: Syrians. It's tragic that many of us have to imagine ourselves being in a similar situation before we'll care that others live it every day, but in my experience reporting on the crisis, this is what's sadly necessary right now," If We Were Syrian founder Shannon Gormley told PolicyMic.

If We Were Syrian is asking viewers to send a tweet or email their legislators to urge more aid for the country in crisis and loosen border restrictions for Syrian refugees.

If we were Syrian, the organization says, "we would expect better."

amcdonald@deseretnews

@amymcdonald89

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