Neighbouring countries

The world’s media is riveted on the refugees and migrants streaming across European borders.

Four years of violence and insurmountable problems have left 12,184,000 people affected in Syria, of whom 5,600,000 are children in need. Outside Syria, there are 3,979,623 registered refugees and persons awaiting registration, of which 2,073,905 are children.

But this is not an overnight crisis.

Nor is the generosity of some European countries anywhere near that of neighbouring countries, who since the war started, have offered a safe refuge to millions of Syrians and other peoples fleeing the conflict in their countries.

According to UNICEF, here is an estimate of Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries:

TURKEY: 1,865,255 refugees

LEBANON: 1,172,753 refugees

EGYPT: 132,375 refugees

JORDAN: 629,128 refugees

IRAQ: 251,499 refugees

This does not include the 7,600,000 internally displaced Syrians who live in appalling conditions in Syria, and where it is often difficult or impossible to provide aid.

Nor does it include the 250,000+ Syrians who have lost their lives; the devastation in the country; and the traumatic effects of the war that will endure for many years.

What’s the solution?

There are no easy answers, but here is what I think needs to happen.

  1. The war in Syria must end. The superpowers and Arab countries have the ability to make this happen.
  2. The rich Arab countries must do much more in terms of taking in refugees.
  3. Aid to NGOs and neighbouring countries that are supporting the refugees must go up dramatically. When food aid, for example, is curtailed, families have no choice but to risk their lives and make perilous journeys to Europe. It’s that, or starve, for increasing numbers.
  4. The so-called Islamic State needs to cease to exist. There is absolutely nothing Islamic about their aims or methods.
  5. Countries like Canada, the Unites States and Europe must offer asylum QUICKLY in far greater numbers. It will only be to their benefit as these individuals will play their part to enhance the economy. Refuges approvals must be fast tracked.

But what can individuals like you and I do? We can rally together to get our governments to take action. We can support relief efforts. We can band together and offer refugee sponsorships.

Individuals can also support young organizations like ours. While we have only been involved in Syria for a very short time through a very credible on-ground partner, and while our work focuses on long term rebuilding through developing female leaders, it is precisely such leaders who we can support, nurture and grow to meet Syria’s needs down the road.

Here’s what one university student we support says about the role she plans to play:

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