The Middle East Refugee Crisis
The Middle East is a vibrant region of incredible religious, cultural, and political diversity. It is the holy land of three of the world’s oldest religions. However instability has long persisted in the region, influenced at various times by European geopolitics, Israeli-Palestinian politics and US involvement including in the Iraq war of 2003-2011.
Syria’s rich history and cultural significance is complex and diverse. The nation is known as the beginning of civilisation, home to the Bronze Age (the oldest written alphabet and first musical notation), some of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world, and ancient locations categorized as World Heritage Sites. Against a backdrop of longstanding regional instability, and the rise of so-called Islamic State or “ISIS” and in the context of the Arab Spring uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt in 2011, a “perfect storm” was brewing in Syria. Key factors at play included years of devastating drought, loss of livelihoods, migration to cities, and a significant existing refugee population from other nations.
A small uprising began in Daraa, southwest Syria, by some who felt oppressed and that there needed to be a change of government. Protests erupted after the arrest and torture of teenage boys. As demonstrators were killed in the government’s response, riots broke out and military force attempting to quell them failed.
Over the next two years the situation took on a political and religious nature and violence escalated as the country descended into civil war (Aljazeera; The Atlantic-a; BBC). In many places a power vacuum was created, which armed groups and terrorist groups took advantage of, taking control of areas across the country. A generally non-sectarian uprising was hijacked and turned into something very complex that many struggle to understand. Conflict has spilled over into Iraq and in 2014 ISIS took control over large areas of western Iraq and many people have been living under their brutal occupation.
The Syrian civil war is the deadliest conflict of the 21st century thus far. Over 450,000 Syrians have been killed in the fighting and more than a million injured (Aljazeera). As this crisis enters its sixth year, civilians continue to bear the brunt of a conflict marked by unparalleled suffering, destruction and disregard for human life (UNOCHA-a). Humanitarian and protection needs are growing to unprecedented levels in terms of scale, severity, and complexity. 13.5 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, 5.7 million of whom are in acute need (UNOCHA-a). The conflict in Syria has caused the largest displacement crisis in the world. Over half of all Syrians have been forced from their homes. There are over 4.85 million registered Syrian refugees and 6.3 million internally displaced people (IDP) (European Commission). 2.9 million Syrian children under the age of 5 have grown up knowing nothing but conflict (UNOCHA-a).
At least half of Syria’s refugees are children (at least 2.4 million) and at least 306,000 children have been born as refugees (Aljazeera). Since 2011, at least 15,525 unaccompanied and separated children have crossed Syria’s borders (Aljazeera). One third of school age children in Syria are not in school (UNOCHA-a). The Syrian war is creating profound effects far beyond the country’s borders. Neighbouring Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan are housing large and growing numbers of refugees, some of whom have attempted to journey on to Europe. Fighting has occasionally spilled over from Syria into Lebanon, contributing to the country’s political polarisation (Aljazeera).
THE COLOUR SISTERHOOD RESPONSE.
We are partnering with organisations to respond in various ways across the stages of someone seeking refuge’s journey. We may not personally be found on the front lines but we can extend our efforts through partnership and have an impact through enabling the provision of emergency relief, safety and education for children in camps or informal settlements, support for those facing the task of rebuilding, and acting and advocating for a spirit of “welcome” to those arriving on our shores. We have a range of projects to engage with that cover all of the 4 stages of the journey that someone seeking refuge may take. There are projects based in countries all over the region from Iraq to Syria to Lebanon and Jordan as well as our own local communities.
I. FIRST RESPONSE
CRISIS RESPONSE & EMERGENCY RELIEF
World Vision, Syria
Preemptive Love Coalition, Syria
Open Doors, Syria
II. SEEKING REFUGE
IDP CAMPS & INFORMAL SETTLEMENTS
World Vision, Syria
Open Doors, Syria
Preemptive Love Coalition, Syria & Iraq
IV. A NEW START
THIRD COUNTRY RESETTLEMENT
Local Impact Project
LET'S TALK SISTERHOOD: CHOOSE EMPATHY
At Colour Conference 2017 we put a focus on the refugee crisis coming out of the Middle East. We have made available some of the videos from that session which will help you in raising awareness and funds for these projects.