Syria: Much More than a Regional Crisis

Photo: copyright of  Stephen Dock, VU

Hundreds of thousands of refugees

As bombings continue, more and more Syrians are seeking refuge abroad, leading to strain on host nations and taking a powerful toll on the refugees themselves. As it stands now, some 900,000 Syrians are in Lebanon, 613,000 in Turkey, 590,000 in Jordan, 222,600 in Iraq, and 133,000 in Egypt.

The Syrian crisis has been dubbed unequivocally by the NGO community as the worst humanitarian crisis of our generation. The countries bordering Syria – particularly Lebanon and Jordan – are feeling the weight of the constant flow of refugees. In Lebanon, for example, the more than 900,000 registered refugees represent nearly 25% of the host country’s population of four million. In areas close to the Syrian border, like Aarsal, the number of refugees far exceeds the population of native Lebanese.

According to Rob Drouen, a regional representative for Action Against Hunger in the Middle East, “the Syrian crisis has emerged as a regional crisis that affects not only refugees but also communities and host governments, which can lead to more division.”

What is being done

NGOs have stepped up as the main actors attempting to mitigate the crisis, according to Drouen, who chairs the Board of the Regional Forum of NGOs in Syria, a 33-member group aiming to influence regional humanitarian policy.

Action Against Hunger teams are collaborating with governments to develop new services for refugees and host communities, and support long-term interventions. We work through several coordination platforms, meeting with our colleague organizations to ensure proper coverage of food security, water, and nutrition programming throughout the region.

The ACF response is a highly contextual, nimble, and community-based approach.

By coordinating with our peers to aim for a situation in which no needs go over- or under-met, we’ve designed a comprehensive suite of response services, which are being implemented throughout the region. Thus, ACF efforts may entail nutrition response in one location, and water and sanitation or food security efforts in another. Efforts range from distributing meals, blankets, and diapers, to providing livestock vaccinations and fodder, to building latrines and providing clean water.

The human side of the story

The numbers associated with this crisis are astounding, and it can make it hard to remember that individual families just like ours are the ones who are suffering.

Five-year-old Rawan had her leg shattered by a missile when she was on her way to the market with her mother in Yabroud, Syria. “We were coming down the stairs towards the market, when the rocket exploded,” her mother, Rasha, explained. The bomb exploded, spitting up thousands of fragments that embedded in the legs of both mother and daughter. Rasha’s husband died, and Rawan lost so much blood that she needed several transfusions and was comatose for three days.

Rawan and her mother have been placed in one of our settlements in Abo Noor, Lebanon, where we’re providing drinking water and sanitation structures for refugees. We’re also collaborating with Handicap International to try to secure Rawan a wheelchair.

Disoriented and living in difficult conditions, refugees like Rawan are extremely vulnerable—and we fear the deterioration of family units. That’s why we’ve starting programming focused on protecting family ties and promoting community solidarity.

It’s this combination of care—physical, social, and emotional—that we hope makes the difference for Rawan, Rasha, and the millions of other people across the region.

Donations to help in our efforts are greatly appreciated. To contribute, click here


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