The Syrian refugee crisis started since the unrest began in Syria in 2011, millions of people have been displaced from their homes in Syria and have sought refuge in other neighboring countries or in less chaotic regions of Syria. It is estimated that over 9 million Syrians have fled their homes by the Migration Policy Centre at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy. 2.6 million Syrians have fled to neighboring countries such as Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, Turkey, and Egypt.
As it stands, the refugees are not too much better off than those staying in Syria. They have to fight for basic needs on a daily basis. Camps and settlements designed to harbor the refugees in neighboring countries are safe havens in Syria itself aren’t equipped to satisfy the needs of the high volume of refugees moving in. There are four basic needs of the people that need to be met, the status of which are indicated below.
– Medical Needs: Illness is rampant within Syria and throughout the support countries due to lack of hygiene and malnutrition. There are no expansive vaccination campaigns, there are no hospitals in decent condition. The refugees are forced to make do with what they have and somehow get by. Syria has lost over half of its physicians during the crisis, making it nearly impossible for anyone to get any help. This graphic illustrates what the MSF, an aid association, has done in Syria and in neighboring countries to help out, but it isn’t nearly enough.
– Nutritional Needs Often, babies are unable to acquire sufficient quantities of milk. Milk used for babies is much more expensive than other staple foods, making it difficult for families with young children to get by. Supermarkets in refugee camps do exist, but not enough aid is given to the families for them to support themselves.
– Schooling: Needs Children of Syria are being deprived of an education due to the ongoing crisis. Refugee camps are unable to hold classes due to insufficient funding and facilities. Any schooling that happens is done by local volunteers or educated refugees who see the need for schooling in the community.
– Psychological Needs: The emotional trauma incurred by the crisis is an unseen effect on the people. Children aren’t emotionally stable enough yet to withstand the stress that they are going through. Most of the refugees have never been subject to this kind of stress, and the emotional burden can take a toll on the health of the Syrians by causing insomnia, incontinence, fear, and repeated crying attacks. Children are driven to delinquency and criminality in attempts to compensate for the poverty of their families.
Lebanon has the greatest number of registered refugees, with the official count by the UN Refugee Agency up to 1,050,877 people. Lebanon has been impacted heavily by the huge influx of Syrians. The country had a weak economy as it stood, topped with political infighting and more internal divisions about whether or not to even be helping the Syrians in the first place. It has decided to keep its border open to more refugees, but it needs help desperately from other countries in the region, notably the UAE. 50,000 more people looking for a safe haven arrive in Lebanon each month. The Syrian refugees now make up 25% of Lebanon’s population. There are no major refugee camps set up in Lebanon as of now, with most of the Syrians flooding border towns and villages. Nearly 230 impoverished Lebanese communities have been burdened with the Syrians, and the international community has yet to help them out significantly.
Jordan has the second highest volume of Syrian refugees, at 593,436. Unlike Lebanon, Jordan has six refugee camps in place for Syrians to use. A more detailed breakdown of Jordan’s refugee population can be found here. The Zaatari and Azraq camps were built specifically for Syrians. As of February 2014, 80,000 Syrians were registered in the Zaatari camp, making it the country’s fourth largest city and the second largest refugee camp in the world. This number has most certainly risen since then, with the UN Refugee Agency estimating it’s population at 101,402. Syrians in the Zaatari camp have repeatedly protested and demonstrated since the opening of the camp regarding the insufficient food supply and poor living conditions. The camp has a high crime rate as well, with drug-dealing and prostitution taking the lead. The protesters openly express support in the FSA, explained in my previous article, and this makes it increasingly difficult for Jordan to remain neutral in the crisis. The Azraq camp was opened just a week ago and can reportedly support 130,000 refugees. Even before this camp started filling up, Syrian refugees represented 10% of Jordan’s population. Though nearly 600,000 Syrian refugees have registered, Jordanian officials estimate that another 700,000 remain in the country unregistered, bringing the total to around 1.3 million. Jordan designed the Azraq camp with the faults of Zaatari in mind, making it very well-organized despite being located in the arid and roasted desert. All new refugees that register with Jordan will be directed to the Azraq camp, with 247 refugees already settled into the camp.
Roughly 7 million Syrians have been displaced within the country itself. The major cities that were once bustling with people and children have been reduced to rubble. The people of Damascus, Aleppo, Homs, and other major cities have been forced to move to stay safe. It is more difficult for charity organizations to provide aid to people inside Syria itself than it is for them to provide aid in the refugee camps in neighboring countries. Humanitarian efforts in Syria are stamped out by the oppressive government, leaving very few options for the displaced Syrians.
The crisis continues, but the Syrians will be forced to deal with horrible living conditions and a nomadic lifestyle without outside help. Those interested in making a difference in the lives of these people can click here to donate and help the refugee camps equip themselves for new arrivals and provide better living conditions for the people.