January 21, 2014

7 Things about the Syrian Refugee Crisis You Need to Know

1. The Syrian Civil War prompted the refugee crisis.

The refugee crisis is a direct consequence of the Syrian Civil War, as millions of Syrians have fled their homes to avoid the fighting between pro-government and opposition forces.

2. The majority of displaced Syrians are internally displaced.

As of January 2014, the United Nations estimated that more than 9 million Syrians need immediate assistance. The majority, about 6.5 million Syrians, are displaced within their own country. Due to the continuing fighting, many internally displaced Syrians lack adequate access to basic services and humanitarian assistance. In addition, the Syrian Government has been routinely criticized by international humanitarian aid organizations for failing to allow humanitarian access to struggling Syrians in besieged areas of the country (1).

3. But, many more are spread throughout countries in the region.

More than 2.2 million additional Syrians have fled the country and are currently seeking sanctuary in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt. Displaced Syrians face a different set of circumstances in each of the host countries as certain countries are able to provide more services and support than others. In Jordan, while the Za’atari refugee camp dominates the headlines of international media, the UNHCR estimates that more than 75% of displaced Syrians live in urban centers outside the refugee camp (2). Lacking easy access to humanitarian services, displaced Syrian families in Jordanian urban centers are often extremely vulnerable.

rsz_map_of_middle_east

 Photo: Cacahuate | Wikipedia Creative Commons

4. The refugee crisis will have long-term, unforeseeable consequences for a generation of children.

According to the UNHCR and UNICEF, children make up half of all refugees from Syria (3). Having experienced a war zone, these children often times suffer from extreme psychological trauma that remains largely untreated. Furthermore, more than 60% of school-aged refugee children in the region are not in school (4). As the crisis drags on, this generation of Syrian children risks being educationally stunted and will face severe barriers to rediscovering the bright futures they were robbed of.

5. Only a durable political solution will definitively solve the crisis.

Only a political solution in Syria will solve the refugee crisis. Unfortunately, any lasting political compromise has thus far remained elusive. Tomorrow, however, marks the beginning of an international conference, known as Geneva II, aimed at negotiating a political solution to the Syrian Civil War. Read more about Geneva II here.

6. But, humanitarian aid provides critical assistance to displaced Syrian communities around the region.

Humanitarian assistance remains absolutely critical to supporting struggling Syrian families around the region. Often, these families leave their homes on short notice, with little more than what they can carry, and lack access to adequate shelter, clean water, food, heat, medical services and employment. Humanitarian actors can help to improve this access. Unfortunately, critical needs of displaced Syrian communities vastly overwhelm the available humanitarian resources. You can help make a difference by donating to our on-the-ground humanitarian partners here.

7. Our new neighbors in Za’atari are just like you and me.

While opinions toward the violent conflict in Syria are often contentious and polarizing, the Salam Neighbor team firmly believes that attitudes toward supporting Syrian refugees should not be. We view displaced Syrian families as no different from next door neighbors and, as such, they deserve the same respect and assistance that we would afford any other struggling human being. The Salam Neighbor project aims to expose the reality of the refugee situation in Jordan, provide you with a new lens through which to view the refugee crisis and, in doing so, encourage you to make displaced Syrians a priority.

Sources:

(1) For more information see: http://www.hrw.org/news/2014/01/14/syria-donors-should-demand-access-increase-aid

(2) Humanitarian Practice Network. 2013. “Special Feature: The Conflict in Syria.” Humanitarian Practice Network at the Overseas Development Institute. November (59). Available at: http://www.odihpn.org/humanitarian-exchange-magazine/issue-59

(3) UNHRC. 23 August 2013. “A million children are now refugees from Syria crisis.” New Stories. Available at: http://www.unhcr.org/521621999.html

(4) Azar, Miriam. 10 January 2014. “Bringing learning to Syrian children in Lebanon.” UNICEF. Available at: http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/70207_71753.html