Syrian Refugee Crisis
As the war in Syria approaches its third anniversary the death toll has passed 126,000 people. More than 2.3 million Syrians have sought refuge in neighbouring countries, and more than half of them are children.
How you can help:
Donate: Syrian Refugee Crisis
What's happening now?
The war in Syria has now been raging for more than 1000 days, and as refugees try to make new lives for themselves - however temporary - in neighbouring countries, they are facing the realities of a harsh winter.
Snow, rain and below-freezing temperatures have already hit Lebanon, where more than 840,000 Syrian refugees live.
World Vision Ambassador Melissa Doyle recently travelled to the region to see first-hand the challenges facing the refugees.
She said the harsh conditions they were facing were confronting.
“No child should have to flee their country because it’s become a warzone, and no child should have to live under a shadow of such uncertainty," Melissa said.
“All the children I spoke to wanted was to go to school, to know their families are safe, and to play. Children shouldn't have to ask for such basic things, but in Lebanon and Jordan too many did."
Melissa's visit coincided with World Vision's work to help prepare thousands for the oncoming winter. In Lebanon, staff were making sure 25,000 families had blankets and vouchers for stoves and fuel, while in Jordan work is underway to prevent flooding in Za'atari refugee camp.
In Syria itself World Vision is providing 2000 winter kits filled with blankets, tarps, rubber boots, socks and winter hats to people affected by fighting.
“It was heartwarming to see the difference the work of World Vision can make to children's lives," Melissa said.
“Travelling to refugee communities and seeing the strength of people piecing together shattered lives was an experience I will never forget.”
Since fighting started in Syria more than 126,000 people have lost their lives, including at least 11,000 children.
Inside Syria, 6.5 million people have been displaced by fighting, and 9.3 million are in need. The conditions in Syria are so bad more than 2.3 million people have fled to neighbouring countries.
Lebanon and Jordan are carrying the brunt of the refugee burden, and the numbers are straining the already limited resources of both countries.
Refugees bring with them horrifying stories of what they witnessed before leaving their home country, including reports of violence, rape and chemical weapon attacks.
From the comfortable homes they enjoyed in Syria before the conflict started, refugees are often finding themselves living in refugee camps, or impoverished host communities. It is difficult for Syrian children to get access to school places, and their parents struggle to find work.
It is a challenge for families to find everyday basics: food, water, blankets and healthcare. But thanks to people like you, World Vision is able to offer help and support to those in need.
Life in a refugee camp - Tim Costello visits Lebanon
World Vision CEO Tim Costello's heart breaks for the children and families who've fled the violence Syria. Now they face a life of uncertainty in a refugee camp in Lebanon, living in tents that are cold in the winter and baking hot in the summer. Many of the children, desperate for an education, haven't been to school in months.
30 second snapshot: Hamze's story
Hamze, 11, fled Syria with his family and now lives in Lebanon. He misses home, his friends, and the life he used to have before the war. This is a short, heartbreaking account of Hamze's story - more than half of the refugees fleeing Syria are children.
World Vision's response
We aim to help more than 360,000 Syrians in both their own country and across the border in Jordan and Lebanon. We want to providebasic needs such as clean water and shelter where it is most needed.
- Working on Azraq camp in Jordan, which will house more than 110,000 Syrian refugees when it opens. Thanks to the generous donations of our supporters, World Vision worked on water, health and sanitation in the camp. So far we've installed 12km of pipe - which will help supply 31,000 refugees with water - and erected taps and water tanks.
- World Vision has distributed nappies and hygiene kits in Za'atari refugee camp to help 17,000 babies and mothers.
- We are facilitating catch-up school classes in Irbid, Jordan, to help the children who can't get school places, or who need help adjusting from the Syrian to Jordanian curriculums.
- World Vision is also providing child friendly spaces, as well as water and sanitation rehabilitation for 50 schools, benefitting more than 63,000 children.
- Thanks to people like you , we have been able to help roughly 70,000 people still in Syria get access to clean water by installing four water pumps. We have also built or renovated existing toilet blocks, and set up some health clinics especially for women.
- In Lebanon, we have been working with the UN World Food Programme to help refugees buy food in local shops and contribute to the local economy.
- Child friendly spaces are providing refugee children with social and emotional support and a safe environment in which to play and learn.
- Supporting children aged 9-14 years with daily catch-up classes and a fast-track learning program so they can keep up with their education.
- Improving access to water, sanitation and hygiene within camps.
- Distributing blankets, warm clothing, and fuel for heating and cooking when the weather gets cold.
As of December 2013, the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR said more than 2.3 million Syrians are now registered as refugees. Lebanon has become home to more than 840,000 Syrian refugees, and Jordan more than 560,000. As a result of the influx Syrian refugees now make up more than 12 percent of the population of Lebanon and have increased Jordan’s population by more than seven percent. These figures are rising daily - the UNHCR has the most recent numbers.
Sadly, more than 1 million of these refugees are children.
With no immediate end to the conflict in sight, the children face months of uncertainty in temporary housing and not knowing if they might ever return to school and a normal life.
How you can help
To donate to the Syrian Refugee Crisis Response give online or call 13 32 40. Funds raised will go toward helping Syrian refugees – for example, enabling us to set up the refugee camp in Azraq, as well as helping others in need in Syria, Lebanon and other areas of Jordan.
As the crisis in Syria worsens, Tim Costello and Hamish Macdonald visit a refugee camp in Jordan to see things first hand. “I'm talking pain, I'm not talking about politics. Because it was my house that was destroyed, and now I'm the one who is a refugee" says one distraught female refugee.