Now in its third winter, the toll of the Syrian refugee crisis continues to rise. Here are five facts you should know about this crisis, and what World Vision is doing to help.
Later this month, international peace talks are scheduled to convene to seek a political solution to the conflict in Syria. The aim of the conference is for the Syrian government and its opposition to sign on to a plan for a transitional government leading to elections.
Since fighting began in 2011, more than 100,000 people have been killed. The International Committee of the Red Cross says that half a million have been wounded. More than 6.5 million Syrians are displaced within Syria, and 2.3 million have fled into neighboring countries as refugees.
As the world looks toward peace talks to solve the Syrian conflict, here are five things you need to know about the refugee crisis:
1. The United Nations has appealed for $6.5 billion to fund assistance for the people affected by the Syrian conflict in 2014.
This is the largest humanitarian appeal ever made for a single crisis. The money is needed to provide food, healthcare, water and sanitation, education, protection for Syrians at home and in neighboring countries, and assistance for the communities that are hosting them. The request comes on top of last year’s appeal for $4.4 billion, of which the U.N. only received 60 percent.
2. The number of Syrian refugees could double by the end of 2014.
In the next few months, Syria’s refugees will likely surpass Afghanistan’s 2.6 million, currently the most refugees from a single country. Syrians account for 80 percent of all refugees who fled their homes in the first half of 2013.
3. Winter weather is taking a toll on families living in inadequate shelter.
Winter Storm Alexa hit the Middle East in mid-December, producing intense cold, winds, floods, and snowfall that has brought misery to families living in tents or in buildings without adequate heat and insulation. Children in particular need warm clothing and shoes. Families also need blankets, stoves, fuel, and insulation.
4. In the 1,000 days of the Syrian conflict, 3 million children have left school.
The reasons are many: schools destroyed or occupied by displaced families, teachers absent or deceased, and insecurity. Syrian refugee children have overwhelmed school systems in neighboring countries. Still many find it hard to enroll and get to class, and others have to work to support their families. Aid agencies fear that the conflict is creating a “lost generation” of uneducated Syrian children.
5. Malnutrition, diarrhea, and childhood communicable diseases are on the rise.
Syrian children are increasingly showing the effects of poor nutrition and lack of healthcare. In some areas, routine immunizations have been missed, allowing a resurgence of childhood diseases, including measles and even polio, which hasn’t been seen in Syria since 1999.
* * *
World Vision is now distributing more than 30,000 winter coats to children between the ages of 2 and 12 living in the Za’atari refugee camp. We’re also helping to provide clean water and sanitation to refugees, as well as remedial education classes to help refugee children make the transition back to school and in a foreign country.
Stand with us. You can help bring relief this winter to Syrian refugees as we work to prevent a lost generation of children. Let’s keep them warm and healthy; let’s get them back in school.