Since the outbreak of civil war in early spring of 2011, Syrians now constitute the largest refugee population in the world. Sadly, this fact is a shimmering evanescent bubble in the minds of Americans. In fact, according to World Vision over half of Americans attribute other recent disasters as far worse. Even though national news outlets are chronicling the developments in this part of the world, most are focused on the political realities as humanitarian conditions are limited to a compendium of outtakes from background footage.
While it is impossible to detail the size and scope of the situation in one modest blog post, here are some cogent facts that help us wrap our minds around the ongoing predicament:
- 3.9 million have fled the country, while 7.6 million are internally displaced.
- Refugees need food, clothing, stoves and fuel for heat and cooking, and basic household and hygiene items.
- Children need a safe, protective environment and a chance to play and go to school.
- Refugees are living in Turkey (1.6 million), Lebanon (1.1 million), Jordan (620,000), Za’atari (84,000), and Azraq (15,000).
- Children are susceptible to malnutrition, disease, sexual abuse, exploitation, and the necessity to forfeit education for work to support the family.
While the crisis enters its fifth year, a recent poll finds that most Americans are still clueless of the fact that this is the worst refugee crisis since World War II. According to an online Harris Poll in February, when confronted with a list of humanitarian crisis from the last 20 years, 4 out of 5 Americans did not believe that the Syrian crisis affected the most people.
If you are inspired to respond, here is a list of the top humanitarian organizations working to relieve the suffering:
2. World Vision
10. Mercy Corps