Syria Marks 6 Years of Civil War as Refugee Crisis Reaches a Crossroads
March 15, 2017
|Kassem (Kristóf Hölvényi, JRS)
|Already at the beginning of the year we are facing the largest humanitarian crisis since the creation of the UN," UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O'Brien told the Security Council
Kassem (pictured left) was eight years old when a bomb fell in his neighborhood killing his father and three siblings: two sisters and a brother. He and his pregnant mother were the only survivors. The bomb had blown away his right leg.
March 15, 2017 marks the sixth anniversary of the Syrian Civil War, which has led to near-constant destruction and violence in the country. This comes days after the UN declared a crossroads in the current global refugee crisis. "We stand at a critical point in history. Already at the beginning of the year we are facing the largest humanitarian crisis since the creation of the UN," UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O'Brien
told the Security Council.
In Syria, more than 6.3 million people are internally displaced and 4.9 million have become refugees. The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) reports that the suffering of children "hit rock bottom" in 2016, with a 20 percent increase in the number of children killed compared to 2015.
At Jesuit Refugee Service, we heed the urgency of the United Nations and are responding to the needs of Syrian refugees. JRS staff and volunteers continue to provide emergency assistance, ongoing educational and psychosocial support in Syria, as well as Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Turkey and Europe, all places that have opened their doors to Syrians fleeing war.
Kassem now attends a JRS-run Educational Center where he finds acceptance and belonging and above all, the possibility to do something positive with his life. "I can do everything they can do and sometimes, much more."
As this sixth year of conflict comes to a close in Syria, JRS continues to work with survivors to find hope and build a future.
Ms Chelsea Dickson