It had to take a picture of a lifeless toddler lying face down washed ashore on a beach, for the world to finally come to terms with, and the accept the fact that Europe’s ‘refugee crisis’ is a self-evident deepening humanitarian catastrophe that’s worsening every passing day.
The heart wrenching photograph of a dead Syrian child washed up on the Turkish shore highlighted the plight of desperate refugees risking lives to try to reach Europe.
The biggest driver of the refugee crisis is Syria, with the highest number of displaced people (around 250,000 have been killed, HALF of the country’s population has been displaced and 4 million refugees have fled; just think about those numbers for a minute) since 2011.
Why is there so much killing, why are people getting displaced and WHY are people fleeing?
Simple explanation – Syria is a country divided between the government, rebel and Kurdish forces and ISIS. The country has been in civil war since 2012. And naturally, civilians suffer the most during war. Once familiar towns and neighbourhoods rendered unrecognizable from the indiscriminate bombing and shelling. Displaced and homeless, aware that the crises in their home country have simply become too dangerous to tolerate, most refugees make the difficult decision to flee and end up in over crowded & under supplied camps in neighbouring countries. But these camps offer very little future for the families who might have to spend years there.
And that’s how Europe comes into play. Charged exorbitant amounts by smugglers, hundreds and thousands of refugees make their way into Europe, often in boats and rubber dinghies that are simply not safe enough to sail through the Mediterranean, and needless to say, tragedies are frequent. You have to understand that, to take a risk like that, speaks volumes of the horrors these people are fleeing and about the acute desperation to find a future for their children.
Now how do the conflicts & crises affect children?
According to UNICEF, one in four schools in Syria can no longer be used for education, since the conflict erupted in 2011. 2.7m Syrian school-aged children are not in school. 50,000 teachers no longer report to work, while thousands of children have to cross front lines to take school exams. Can you imagine the sheer despair felt by a generation of school children who are seeing their hopes and futures shattered? What future does a region have if it’s children are not offered one?
But it’s not just Syria. Longer running conflicts have displaced millions from Afghanistan, Somalia, Nigeria & Eritrea as well.
While governments(with one big exception) are out there still trying to make up their minds about how to distribute the influx of refugees within their countries, what actions can we, as part of an international community, take? Let’s start with Syria.
YOU can help.
There are a number of humanitarian organisations that are distributing aid and services within Europe as well as the Middle East.
A dollar or a thousand – it does not matter. If you have the means to do it, please donate to the cause.
- Save The Children (www.savethechildren.org) : The org. says some 5 million Syrian children are in need of
assistance. Funds are used for food, clothing, care and protection as a result of the ongoing war.
- CARE (www.care.org) : CARE has operations in Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, Yemen and Syria offering all kinds of assistance to people affected by the Syrian conflict.
- UNHCR (www.unrefugees.org) : The organisation is providing water, mosquito nets, tents, health care and other services.
- UNICEF (http://www.unicef.org/emergencies/syria/) : UNICEF needs an additional $300 million (AED 1.10 billion) this year to give more children access to education. The agency has so far received $140 million, or 40% of its 2015 appeal.
“Is my donation really going to matter?”
Absolutely, one hundred percent, yes. A lot of these organisations are struggling to cope with the vast numbers; every single penny/dirham/rupee/you-get-my-point counts.
Echoing Angela Merkel’s sentiments, together, “We can make it.”
And for the sake of humanity, we need to.
*Notes : Thinking ”Just what happened to Syria?!” ? This should help you out. A brief explanation courtesy Vox World : Why People are fleeing Syria.