By Trevor Sipos
The Syrian civil war is a complicated violent conflict that seems to have no end in sight. The war has killed hundreds of thousands of Syrians, displaced around 11 million and has gotten countless countries involved in both aid and fighting. Accommodating these millions of Syrians has been difficult, as they need shelter, food and supplies. Not to mention the question of where you find the space to place camps for all of these refugees.
The start of the Civil War began with peaceful pro-democracy protests against the regime of Bashar Al Assad after teenagers were killed for painting revolutionary signs. Protestors were met with violence by the Syrian government and this eventually led to rebels fighting back against the regime. The conflict is complicated because it is not just people fighting against the government. The rebels are the majority Sunni Muslims and the Shia Alawite sect backs Bashar Al Assad’s government. The Islamic State of Iraq (ISIS) is also involved fighting the Sunnis vying for control over Syria.
Around 4.4 million Syrians have fled to Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, and Iraq while 6.6 million are internally displaced within Syria. Turkey itself holds around 2.5 million refugees but it’s camps can only hold 200,000. This makes living conditions for many refugees in Turkey cramped as sometimes hundreds will sleep packed next to each other under a single roof. Living conditions for refugees in Turkey can often be unsanitary and dangerous. There are even reports that Turkey is deporting refugees back into Syria with permission from Turkey’s president Recep Erdogan.
In Lebanon there are no camps for Syrian refugees. Refugees either live in rented housing or with nomadic camps or hosted with families. Schools are being set up for Syrian children but a large number of children are forced to work to provide for their families who are sometimes not legally allowed to work. Refugees sometimes live in homes with no heat or running water. Disease can easily be spread under unsanitary living conditions and without needed medical supplies can turn deadly.
Europe is also receiving a vast number of migrants and refugees primarily coming from Syria. Over 350,000 Syrians applied to seek asylum in Europe in 2015. In 2015, Europe claimed 1,321,560 migrants and refugees. These refugees often travel by sea to Europe in what can sometimes be a dangerous journey. Relocating these individuals in new countries can be difficult, as proper housing is needed.
The NGO Mercy Corps is assisting millions of Syrian refugees across countries. They are on the ground providing emergency relief to Syrians. With your support they are able to provide clean water, sanitation, food and shelter that is crucial to their survival. Other NGO’s helping include World Food Program and International Medical Corps. The Syrian conflict is a crisis but there are solutions to helping refugees who are in need of assistance.