This post previously appeared in Politico.
Syria’s civil war has become one of the largest humanitarian disasters in recent memory. The number of displaced Syrians is climbing rapidly, and the United Nations now estimates that half of Syria’s 20 million people could need aid by the end of this year. The Obama Administration and Congress have responded generously to the needs of Syrians during the last two years of conflict, but clearly more must be done.
Starting today, my colleague Marc Hanson and I will be in the Middle East to continue our field research on the situation of Syrian refugees.
RI first looked at this crisis a year ago in Lebanon, when the number of refugees there was relatively small and assistance was distributed largely through local authorities and host families. No one expected the crisis to take on the proportions that it has since, nor last so long.
This post originally appeared in The National.
In the last few weeks alone, the country has seen summary executions, the bombing of a major university, and population displacement on a massive and growing scale.
By any standard, one billion is a daunting number. How many grains of sand is one billion? How long would it take to eat one billion M&Ms? For policymakers and others who deal with national budgets on a daily basis, the concept of ‘one billion’ may not be so hard to grasp. But for most of us it borders on the incomprehensible.