This week, the Syrian conflict enters its 9th year. Though reports indicate that ISIS is in retreat and the United States government is pushing for withdrawal of troops, millions of people are still suffering, and the need to commit resources and attention to those displaced by the war remains.
According to UNHCR, 6.2 million Syrians are internally displaced, 5.7 have fled the country and are refugees, and an estimated 13 million Syrians are in dire need of humanitarian aid.
For many, the challenges extend beyond trying to escape conflict, with exorbitant housing costs, high unemployment rates, and limited access to essential services such as health and education. And, those who do manage to cross the border, face their own set of problems. Families have been separated, resources are sparse, and the opportunity for resettlement is nearly impossible. Countries like Lebanon are strapped for resources, having taken on 1.5 million Syrian refugees, the highest number of refugees per capita in the world, and other donor governments and institutions have not fully lived up to their commitments.
Children displaced by the war are of particular importance. Many of these children remain out of school, with 1/3 – or nearly 3 million school-age Syrian children – out of formal education.
“Entering the 9th year of the conflict in Syria, nobody can reasonably consider return to Syria as a safe option for refugees yet,” Anne Ziegler, Assistant Regional Director of JRS MENA, said reflecting on the anniversary. “Host countries and refugees need support more than ever as the situation gets bogged down. What’s clear is that protection and education for refugees should be reinforced as much as possible. Quality education, linked to psychosocial support and mental health when needed, as implemented by JRS MENA, should be the privileged way to build a future for Syria.” Ms. Ziegler reflected as she participated in Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region conference hosted in Brussels by the EU and UN. “Let’s keep in mind that more than 3 million Syrian children are out-of-school,” she continued. “Who will reconstruct Syria if we do not meet this need?”
JRS remains committed to our Syrian brothers and sisters who have been displaced by the war, both within the country and those who manage to cross the border. JRS serves internally displaced Syrians and those displaced in its neighboring countries with home visits, emergency assistance, psychosocial support, community building, income generating activities, and education.
JRS/USA also continues to call on the US Government to commit to displaced Syrians and to the education of displaced children.
“We hope that donors and institutions, including the United States Government, recommit to the Syrian people and to the innocent victims of a horrific war. As we enter another year of conflict in Syria, we are reminded that these commitments have impacts on an entire generation of children, and we must do more to respond,” says Giulia McPherson, JRS/USA Director of Advocacy and Operations