Five Years In: A Look Back at Syria’s Refugee Crisis
10 March 2016
The first wave of refugees fled from Syria to nearby Jordan and Lebanon in 2011. They expected the crisis to last a matter of months, and then they would return home. Those months stretched into a year, and then more years. Millions of Syrians have poured across the country’s borders seeking refuge from the violence.
As the years have passed, prosperous Syrian families who once ran businesses and sent their children to good schools have seen their savings dwindle away. Impoverished Syrian families have been living at the mercy of government and humanitarian support.
Such a massive number of refugees in need of help far surpasses the amount of financial support provided by the international community.
In the past year, the struggle of surviving in the Middle East became too much for some Syrians. The world was forced to take note as hundreds of thousands flooded into Europe with the hope of a better future.
Today, at least 80 percent of Syrian refugees are still living in neighbouring countries, unable to feel at home but with no other home available.
In Jordan, few refugees can work legally, and desperation has led them to take risks they would have never before contemplated. Fathers take work illegally to earn money, even though being caught could mean being separated from their family and sent back to Syria. Children are pulled out of school to beg in the streets. Girls as young as 12 years old are married off because their families cannot afford to support them.
In Lebanon, life as a refugee has become an exercise in starting over – and over and over. Some refugees construct tents on rented land, develop routines and set up their own community leadership, but always with the risk that they might be evicted and have to start again. Snowstorms and flooding damage tents, destroying what few belongings the refugees managed to bring with them.
Since 2012, Medair has been providing assistance to Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon. Medair works to help Syrian families in Jordan afford their basic needs with dignity, providing monthly cash assistance and financial support for specific needs such as shelter winterisation, childbirth, or surgeries. In Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, Medair provides shelter to refugees and is always on call to deliver new tent materials in case of fires, floods, or snowstorms. We also provide clean water and sanitation to settlements, plus fire-safety training and a fire extinguisher for each tent. Medair’s mapping team ensures that even as people move from place to place, each settlement is located and identified on a map so that assistance can reach them.
When it feels like the only news out of Syria is about violence and destruction, it can be hard to remain hopeful and even harder to know how to respond. Yet when you see a family’s visible relief upon receiving a shelter kit during a snowstorm in Lebanon, or the joy of a mother upon the safe delivery of her child in Jordan, it keeps you pressing on.
We ask you to press on with us, and pray that peace will soon be restored and families will be able to feel safe and at home again.
Your gift helps a Syrian family receive the health care, shelter, and clean water they need until home is no longer a far-off dream. Please consider making a gift today.
Medair’s projects in Jordan and Lebanon are made possible by the European Commission, UN High Commission for Refugees, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, Swiss Solidarity, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Läkarmissionen (SE), Woord en Daad (NL), Lutheran World Federation (CA), ERIKS Development Partner (SE), All We Can (UK), Medicor Foundation (CH), Transform Aid International (AU), Lausanne City Council (CH), CEDAR Fund (HK), World Relief (US), Gebauer Foundation (CH), Irish Aid, and by Medair’s private supporters from around the world.