11th Syrian Refugee Crisis Anniversary Blog Post
The Syrian Civil War began in March 2011 with nonviolent protests. There has been no hint of peace in the 11 years since then. There was a call for government reform and instead, the population received a military crackdown. Regardless of the motivations, the circumstances of war, and the consequences, remain the same.
Violence. Displacement. Death.
Over 600,000 Syrians have been killed, at least 25,000 of whom were children.
Tactics to diminish the population have included airstrikes and bombings of schools and hospitals.
So, what do you do when there is violence and war around you and no way to keep your family safe to see the next day?
For the past 11 years, Syrian refugees have been relocated all over the world. Jordan is home to the bulk of Syrian refugees. In the camps of Zaatari, Azraq, and Al Mafraq, almost 670,000 displaced Syrians have built their homes. These are extremely poor families. There are still obstacles to overcome. Many families require medical treatment that they cannot afford. The majority of people live in tents with no appropriate floors, roofs, or walls. There is a scarcity of water. It is more likely that children will find a way to work rather than attend school.
The result of these conditions? A consistently rising death toll from untreated medical conditions, harsh winters, and struggle.
Yet time and time again humanitarians of every age and background have made their way to these camps only to discover the most pleasant and faithful people they have ever encountered. An HHRD (Helping Hand for Relief and Development) donor reported going into multiple tents and asking families “What do you need? What can we provide?” only to receive a humble and happy “Alhamdulillah (thank God), nothing.” Their humility and strength are a test for the rest of the world - can we see beyond their smiles to their conditions and recognize their needs? Can we provide for them?
We can certainly try.
The Syrian Refugee Crisis has called humanitarians all over the world to provide aid and attention. Programs have been facilitated in Jordan, Turkey, the US, and other countries to take in Syrian refugees. Organizations such as HHRD have assessed the needs in these camps and have developed programs to match as many of those needs as possible. This has included programs for orphans, water filtration programs, food packages, winter provisions, building and running schools, and even building micro-homes.
The work is unending for the foreseeable future, but it is work that must be done. "This world is a test," goes a saying passed down from generation to generation as a source of strength. That is correct. The test is clear for people who have survived and fled wars. The test is so subtle for the rest of us that we are frequently in danger of failing it just by missing it. It's a test of provisions - having them and using them effectively.
On this, the 11th anniversary of the Syrian Refugee Crisis, we recognize that we have a long way to go as a global community.
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