The civil war in Syria has entered its third year, and the number of refugees fleeing the country has doubled in the past three months.
Today's post -- the third in our series about the crisis -- offers a list of the most frequently asked questions to offer our readers some background to the growing humanitarian needs.
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How many people have fled their homes?
As of March 26, about 3.6 million people have been displaced within Syria, and over 1.1 million have fled to neighboring countries, according to the UN refugee agency.
Does the soaring number of refugees show any sign of slowing?
No. Thousands of refugees are leaving Syria every day. Their main destinations are Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon, and Iraq.
What are the refugees’ greatest needs?
Refugees lack adequate shelter, clean water, food, and hygiene items. Most have fled their homes on short notice after facing shootings, bombings, and artillery fire. Often, they arrive in the country of refuge with little more than the clothes they are wearing. Some have not even had a chance to grab their identity papers.
Where are the refugees living?
Refugees have taken up residence in abandoned buildings, sheds, spare rooms, garages, and temporary shelters. Conditions are often crowded and unsanitary. Even so, families struggle to pay rent. In Jordan, about 40 percent of refugees are living in camps. The main camp in Jordan is Za’atari, close to the northern border with Syria. It is home to 60,000 people -- more than twice the number it was designed to accommodate.
What risks do children face?
Children are especially susceptible to malnutrition and poor health, due to lack of food and poor sanitary conditions. Children are more vulnerable to sexual abuse and exploitation in unfamiliar and overcrowded conditions. Families face pressure to marry girls off early in an effort to reduce family expenses and help prevent sexual abuse.
(Hamze - Syrian refugee 2013 | World Vision)
What impact does this have on the education of refugee children?
The burden of rent makes it difficult for parents to afford books, uniforms, and tuition fees for their children. In some cases, children are being required to give up school and start work to help provide for their families. In Lebanon, the government has opened public schools to Syrian children -- but language barriers, cost of transportation, and the poor state of the public education system keeps many refugee children out of school.
What is the impact of Syrian refugees on host communities?
The influx of nearly 100,000 new job seekers each in Jordan and Lebanon has put tremendous pressure on their respective job markets. In addition, rents have risen and schools and medical services are struggling to cope with the increased demand.
What is World Vision doing to meet people’s needs?
World Vision is assisting more than 60,000 Syrian refugees in Lebanon and anticipates that this will increase to about 150,000 over the next six months. Help includes provision of food vouchers, hygiene kits, and projects to improve access to clean water and sanitation. We're also offering classes for Syrian children to facilitate their enrollment in Lebanese schools and providing supplementary classes for those already enrolled in school.
Finally, World Vision also runs Child-Friendly Spaces -- safe areas where children can engage in fun activities and recover from emotional scars. World Vision is commencing similar operations in Jordan, to reach about 29,000 refugees and host community members.
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With reporting by Brian Jonson and Patricia Mouamar, World Vision communications staff members in Lebanon.
Make a one-time donation to help World Vision provide emergency assistance for Syrian refugees. Your gift will help us deliver basic hygiene kits and food vouchers for refugee families, as well as established Child-Friendly Spaces to provide affected children with a safe place to play, learn, and interact with their peers.
Please join us in prayer for all World Vision staff members working around the world, particularly in this region of conflict.
Also, consider joining World Vision’s Hope Prayer Team. Each month, you’ll receive an email containing suggested prayer points for those in need, for World Vision’s work, and for our staff -- as well as news from around the world, guided prayer points for urgent requests, and links to other ways you can care for children in need.