Syria’s refugees are on my mind these days. Each Wednesday, I’ll share with you some of what we know about the crisis.
Syrian refugees are in the forefront of the news for good reason: The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) estimates that more than 2 million people have fled Syria since the crisis erupted there in March 2011.
Syria’s refugees need the world’s attention, so in this weekly blog post, I’d like to update you on the latest news of the crisis and how LIRS and our partners are responding. If the fighting drags on, resettlement will need to be considered a viable option for Syrians driven from their homeland. LIRS stands ready to help. We have refugee resettlement experience reaching back to World War II. More recently, through our 28 affiliates in 26 states, we resettled thousands of Iraqis and others displaced by the last Gulf War.
Syria has handed over information about its chemical weapons after a deal was struck between the US, Russia, and other foreign allies. The plan called for an inventory of Syria’s chemical weapons within a week, and for their destruction or removal from the country by mid-2014. On September 28th, the U.N Security Council unanimously approved the plan.
Despite the agreement, Syrians are fleeing their home at an increasing rate. According to USAID, 5,000 people are now fleeing Syria daily. Food security is a top concern for refugees, who often travel, sometimes on foot, for days to reach safety in a neighboring country. When they arrive at camps, high-energy biscuits and emergency meal replacement bars are provided by the World Food Program (WFP).
The WFP has been at the forefront of the food supply issue, providing sustenance for 1.1 million refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Iraq, and Turkey. They aim to feed up to 6.5 million Syrians between now and December. The organization provides food through vouchers, which allow families to buy their own groceries while helping the local economy. WFP also delivers rations to camps, which typically include rice, sugar, salt, flour, lentils, and vegetable oil, and they are working to supply specialized products to prevent and treat malnutrition among children.
WFP’s quick and consistent responses have been able to meet most of the critical demands for food. Ute Meir, WFP’s acting Country Director in Iraq, stated that WFP had “mobilized enough food to meet most of the urgent food needs of Syrian refugees in camps and transit centers in northern Iraq.” LIRS applauds WFP for their comprehensive efforts supplying food to refugees.
The World Food Program website is a good place to learn more and discover how you can support their work for Syrian refugees.
Next Wednesday, you’ll be able to find further updates on Syrian refugees here at Redefining Welcome.
Image credit: Margaret Besheer, VOA