With support from Russia and Iran, the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, has regained control over most of the country’s territory. Yet, the humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate. In the first eight months of 2018 alone, nearly 1.4 million people were displaced by violence. Now the warning lights are blinking red in Idlib and other areas outside of regime control. Many of the Syria’s 5.5 million refugees are under mounting pressure to return home before it is safe to do so.
In Syria, the population of Idlib is bracing for what promises to be a brutal offensive by the Assad regime. When Syria, Russia, Turkey and Iran discuss Idlib’s fate later this week, they must remember that the lives of millions of civilians hang on their ability to find a peaceful resolution to this situation.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights makes clear the right of every human being to seek safety in another country. But eight years into the Syrian conflict, this most basic of human rights barely matters because there is so little leeway for people to leave Syrian territory in the first place. If the international community truly wants to help Syrians, it must insist that Syria’s neighbors open their borders, and it needs to offer financial, technical and humanitarian assistance to make that happen.
Just back from a field mission in Syria, Hardin Lang writes that last week’s strikes against Syria won’t change the arc of the conflict, nor will they alleviate the suffering of the civilian population: chemical weapons are responsible for but a tiny fraction of that suffering. Their absence will not stop the Assad regime from continuing to press its military advantage.
Responding to the current global refugee crisis, the UN General Assembly in September 2016 convened a special meeting to examine the effectiveness of the international community’s response to mass movements of people. That meeting lead to two important outcomes, with the third - the Global Compact on Migration - still pending. Jeff Crisp argues that the formulation of a Global Compact represents an invaluable opportunity to reassess, revise and reinvigorate the international community’s efforts to protect and find solutions for the world’s refugees.
In October, a Refugees International (RI) colleague and I traveled to Turkey to revisit the issue of work permits and livelihood access for the 3.5 million refugees now living there – 3.2 million of whom are Syrians. As in previous missions, we interviewed Syrian refugees who had recently fled their war-torn homeland.
Following the liberation of Raqqa, Syria from ISIS control, Daryl Grisgraber looks at the humanitarian needs of internally displaced people and of those who remained during the conflict. The physical and logistical obstacles to providing humanitarian aid may be fewer with the end of the fighting, but in a sense aid organizations are now playing catch-up with people whom they couldn’t previously serve adequately or at all.
On World Humanitarian Day, Refugees International honors aid workers around the world who risk their lives in the service of others. Tragically, the places where people are most in need – whether in Yemen, northeast Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria, or the Democratic Republic of the Congo – are also some of the most dangerous places in the world.
The sixth anniversary of the Syria conflict is upon us. In those six years, five million Syrians have become refugees in neighboring countries. Inside Syria, six and a half million people are displaced from home, and 13.5 million need humanitarian aid to survive even as humanitarian needs continue to grow. The situation for 2017 does not look promising. A hopeful development of the past half decade of the Syria conflict has been the growth of dozens—even hundreds—of local Syrian groups and networks delivering aid inside Syria and their ability to get aid across the border from Turkey into Syria. These groups have become an essential element of assisting people inside Syria, especially in places the United Nations and INGOs cannot get to because of security concerns.
Today marks the fifth anniversary of the Syria crisis. With more than half the country’s original population displaced and humanitarian access still restricted, it’s not obvious from a quick glance that there have been some positive changes in the past five years. When RI first started visiting Syria and the surrounding countries in 2012, there was relatively little appreciation for some of the basic facts: most Syrian refugees were not housed in camps, Syrian children and adolescents were missing out on multiple years of basic education, and local Syrian groups were providing significant amounts of humanitarian aid and services inside Syria
As of this morning, the fourth international donor conference for Syria has generated $11 billion in pledges. The current appeal stands at almost $9 billion. This is the amount required to assist people inside Syria, as well as those in the nearby countries hosting the largest numbers of refugees. The size of the request has grown year after year, but so has the funding shortfall. If the commitments for 2016 are honored, there will be a chance to improve the support available to millions of Syrians in need. But along with money, donors and humanitarians need to further develop their approach to providing aid inside Syria, where access is not likely to improve much
Like many this past fall, Dilawar Khan was moved by the news coverage of refugees making the dangerous Mediterranean crossing to seek safety in Europe. Khan, the owner of a limousine company in Virginia, decided he wanted to do something to help. Inspired by his friend and Refugees International board member Lisa Barry, he decided to use his passion for cricket and organize a charity cricket match in support of Refugees International.
Last week’s events in Paris prompted, predictably, an immediate backlash regarding the resettlement of Syrian refugees, both in the United States and Europe. The should-we-or-shouldn’t-we question that has been a steady topic of debate among politicians, policymakers, and advocates for the past several years has taken a firm turn toward we shouldn’t after a Syrian passport was found near one of the attackers’ bodies. Calls to restrict and even stop resettlement of Syrians to the U.S. have come from public figures as diverse as a presidential candidate, leadership of the House of Representatives, and state governors. But the body of evidence regarding the risks of terrorism from a potential refugee resettlement program is not borne out.