Syria Refugee Crisis
Half of Syria's pre-war population has either died or fled. Nearly 4.3 million people - half of them children - are refugees in other countries. They live in tents or dilapidated buildings and are desperate for food, shelter, water and other necessities. Many parents helplessly watch while their children wither away. It's the worst humanitarian crisis in the world today. Food for the Hungry is providing life-saving supplies in refugee camps in Jordan.
We’ve seen heart wrenching photos and heard rhetoric that inspires fear, anger and distrust, but what are the facts about Syrians fleeing their homes and creating a global crisis of epic proportions?
Before Syria’s brutal war started in 2011, more than 22 million people called the nation home. Half of those people have either died or fled.
Where Did Half the Population Go?
Another 6.6 million are internally displaced in Syria—trapped inside a country devastated by war, surviving on the edge of life, surrounded by horrors too brutal to imagine, struggling to survive in the country’s shattered infrastructure and economy (Source: Relief Web). The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported in January 2016 that 13.5 million Syrians need humanitarian assistance.
The question is, what can we do as individuals who have the heart to help but are confused about how to make a difference?
In partnership with the Integral Alliance and the Lebanese Society for Educational and Social Development (LSESD) in Lebanon, Food for the Hungry is helping provide food, shelter, hygiene kits, educational assistance, child-friendly spaces, psychological counseling and more.
We also signed a statement by the Great Commandment/Great Commission Summit pledging our organization’s ongoing help to Syria’s refugees.
Syria’s refugee crisis began in March 2011 as pro-democracy protests turned violent, sparking even more protests by hundreds of thousands of Syrians. Violence escalated into civil war, and the United Nations estimated that 90,000 people were killed by June 2013. That number climbed to 250,000 by August 2015 and had drawn in neighboring countries, world powers, jihadists and the Islamic State (ISIS).
Horrific human rights violations have been reported, including public executions, beheadings, amputations and the use of chemical weapons against civilians (Source: BBC). People fled for their lives, leaving behind their belongings, friends, family and any sense of welfare or security.
Where Are the Refugees Going?
Most refugees fled to the neighboring countries of Jordan and Lebanon, where Food for the Hungry is offering aid in partnership with the Integral Alliance and the Lebanese Society for Educational and Social Development. Some refugees fled to Iraq in August 2013 after a new border crossing opened. These refugees are now trapped in another hostile environment because of Iraq’s insurgent conflict and ISIS influence.
With host communities in the Middle East overwhelmed—food, medical care and other necessities dangerously scarce—a wave of 1 million people flooded several countries in Europe, which are also struggling to integrate and provide for the refugees. (Source: BBC)
The Challenges Refugees Face
Lack of income is one of the biggest struggles refugees face. Without money, parents can’t provide for their families, which puts children in danger of disease and death. Crowded spaces and lack of resources have also made hygiene a huge concern. Due to lack of clean water and sanitation, diseases like polio and cholera easily spread. In some locations, water shortages have severely impacted the population; refugees in these areas get only 30 liters of water per person per day.
More than half of all Syrian refugees are under 18. They don’t receive decent educations; many have been out of school for months or years, which threatens to trap them into a generation of poverty even after the war is over. These children and teens have lost their homes, schools, families and friends. They’re frightened, confused and angry.
The Toll on Children
The struggles of this conflict most heavily fall on children. While everyone is exposed to violence and displacement due to war, kids in particular are vulnerable to health risks, abuse or exploitation. Millions can no longer purse an education, which will set back their mental growth and development for years—which can have an impact that stretches across future generations. Many Syrian kids are also drafted into the war or are captured on the long trips they must make to safety. Syrian children are in desperate need of safety and shelter, food, clean water and simple warmth.
What Can I Do?
There are several ways you can help the Syrian refugees:
Give. Your generous donation will save lives, and you can give a one-time donation or commit to a monthly amount. Below are examples of what you can provide:
- $10 can help provide a blanket to protect against the bitter winter cold.
- $20 can help provide a mattress so children don’t have to sleep on the ground.
- $40 can help provide a hygiene kit to help stave off disease.
- $90 can help provide a stove so families can feed their kids.
- Pray. Lift up Syria, Turkey, and Lebanon as well as the people arriving in Jordan, Iraq, Europe, America and other locations. Pray for the leaders of each country involved, asking that the civil war ends soon and conflicts settle peacefully. If you live near Syrian refugees or know your area will have an influx of them, pray specifically about how you can help.
- Share. Food for the Hungry also needs you to help grow our online presence. Use your social media accounts to raise awareness of the Syrian crisis and the refugees’ plight. Get your church involved. Ask if you can speak publicly about this crisis, or write a pertinent post for the church’s blog or web page.
We Take Financial Accountability Seriously.