08 Sep The Syrian Refugee Crisis: Searching for Peace
Understanding the Syrian refugee crisis
The past week has unfurled stirring scenes of Syrians uprooted from their homes and driven to desperate journeys in search of a stable, peaceful future.
The complex Syrian conflict has led to the displacement of more than 4 million people who have had to leave the country since 2011, while another 12 million require assistance internally.
The conflict emerged in the midst of civilian demonstrations in early 2011, which were met with hostility from President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. It has since been exacerbated by the involvement of many factions and rebel groups, including ISIS, as well as the difficult political dynamics of the region.
Often families have attempted to move back home, over and over, in the hope that the conflict will soon be resolved allowing them to resume normal life in their hometowns, but unfortunately this has been met with further risk.
Regional support for Syrian refugees
Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan have accommodated many Syrians into refugee camps and have been hosting communities in the past four years.
Among these, Jordan’s three-year-old Zaatari refugee camp is now one of the country’s biggest cities hosting a population of 83,000. The remaining 80% of Syrians in Jordan live outside of the UN-run refugee camps, and Amman puts the total refugee figure at 1.4 million. The majority still rely on food coupons and aid agencies for their daily sustenance, and the recent cuts to food aid have posed fresh challenges for Syrians in the region.
Lebanon is host to more than 1.1 million registered refugees, which is 10 times more than the number just prior to January 2013. Meanwhile, Turkey has taken in about 2 million refugees at almost the same rate of increase as Lebanon. Egypt and Iraq have also accepted between 130,000 and 250,000 refugees since the start of the Syrian conflict.
How Europe is helping Syrian refugees
Vulnerable families and individuals are now travelling to Europe to escape the war – a move that has resulted in huge danger and loss. Iceland, Germany, Austria and the UK, among other countries, are facing the arrival of refugees on their borders and re-considering quotas for accepting Syrians into their countries.
Earlier this week, Prime Minister David Cameron pledged to resettle 20,000 Syrian refugees in the UK by the year 2020, prioritising children – particularly orphans. He said:
“We will continue with our approach of taking refugees from the camps and elsewhere in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon. This provides refugees with a more direct and safe route to the UK rather than risking the hazardous journey to European which has tragically cost so many lives.”
The number of Syrian refugees in Europe is less clear, but, so far this year, about 28,000 Syrians under the age of 18 have applied for asylum in the European Union, giving themselves a chance to access education.
The prospect of resettlement comes with the hope of the return to basic routine and peace, and the lives of Syrian refugees may take a turn for the better.
UK charities helping Syrian refugees
Many of you have been asking us how best to help the incoming Syrian refugees, who have risked their lives to get to place of safety.. Charitable responses in the UK have been uplifting and overwhelming as discussed in our last blog.
To continue to provide to support for Syrian refugees – as well as other good causes – our partner charities need your support through fundraising activities that you can get involved in here in the UK.
As Help for Syria is unable to accept donations, we have selected a broad range of trusted charities to ensure your donation reaches the people who need it the most. We’ve arranged each charity by their specific expertise so you can find which ones match the field you are most keen to support. If you want to get involved then please check out the find a charity page on our website.
Aid agencies on the ground have advised that humanitarian efforts be directed to where there is the most demand, as locations like the Calais border have been inundated with donations which are no longer required. Please check official charity reports before submitting your donations and utilise the channels available. Don’t forget, you can also support the charity campaigns taking place in bordering countries, whose inhabitants often rely on charitable aid for their basic needs.