The civil war in Syria has created the worst humanitarian crisis of our time, and as its devastating consequences continue to unfold, the pain and suffering experienced by millions of Syrian refugees has reached epic proportions.
Since 2011, violence, homelessness, tragedy and despair have continued to dominate the lives of those forced to flee Syria; countless towns and cities have been destroyed, and hundreds of thousands of Syrians have been killed.
Compounding this tragedy is the overwhelming strain these terrible circumstances have placed on the surrounding countries of Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey — pressing the already strained economies, infrastructures, and public services of Syria’s neighbors to the breaking-point. Human suffering throughout the area continues to grow, with no let-up in sight; national economies are being undermined; and stability in the region is being seriously threatened.
And the crisis is spreading: faced with unbearable conditions in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, desperate Syrian refugees have begun flooding into Europe in their search for shelter and safety, creating new challenges for a growing number of European countries.
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reports that already the number of Syrian refugees registered in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey is nearly 4 million, with a substantial burden being borne by Lebanon, where over 25% of the population is now Syrian. And according to a recent Refugee Council USA report, Jordan also has reached a point of saturation, with 628,000 registered Syrian refugees accounting for 10 percent of the country’s population. Nearly 1.78 million registered refugees have crossed into Turkey, while Iraq serves as a sanctuary to more than 2 million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and 247,000 refugees, with 97% residing in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, according to UNHCR.
This crisis is not going away, and the vulnerabilities among both the refugees and the local communities grow more urgent by the day. If these shocking conditions are not addressed now, the global community may well be setting the stage for a second set of problems – potentially even more serious – problems stemming from a generation of uneducated children and jobless young people who are caught up in this human tragedy.