Syria refugee crisis | Action Against Hunger

Humankind must be treated humanely - at all times

With Syria now in its fifth year of conflict, the scale and gravity of the crisis facing its people is overwhelming. 

By Jean-Michel Grand

Sep 4 2015

More than 220,000 people have been killed since the conflict in Syria began in 2011 – half of them believed to be civilians – and at least a million more have been injured. 

Today, our thoughts are with the family of three-year-old Syrian refugee Aylan Kurdi, who tragically drowned with his mother Rehan and brother Galip, 5, off the coast of the Bodrum peninsula while trying to reach the Greek island of Kos. The heart-wrenching image of Aylan’s tiny body on the shoreline has humanised the plight of the thousands of refugees risking everything for the chance of a safer, better tomorrow. At last, there has been an outpouring of solidarity among the UK public for the victims of the refugee crisis – a crisis that has already claimed far too many innocent lives.

The conflict has created one of the largest population movements since the Second World War. There are now an estimated 7.6 million people displaced within Syria. These families have had to leave almost everything behind, including their livelihoods. 

Thousands more flee Syria every day – many after having seen friends or family members killed. The decision to leave is not an easy one– the journey out of the country is fraught with danger, including death and kidnap. And while there are now an estimated 4.1 million Syrians sheltering in other countries – many in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey – living conditions for them remain hard.

Syria’s economy has collapsed, with food and fuel prices soaring, unemployment high and an estimated 75 per cent of Syrians living in poverty. Many families no longer have access to the basics they need to survive, including food and water, and many children are no longer able to attend school. Access to health care is limited, at best. 

Our 400-plus regional staff are desperately trying to meet the needs of families displaced within Syria and those now sheltering in neighbouring Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon.  

In Syria, despite the risks, we’re working with partners such as the Syrian Red Crescent to improve lives. We’re installing and repairing water and sanitation systems, including at schools, and securing food access for some of the country’s most vulnerable.

In Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon, we’re trying to improve living conditions for refugee families, including by repairing or installing water and drainage systems, distributing food or credit-charged cards that can be used to purchase household essentials monthly, and offering psychological support to men, women and children overwhelmed by the trauma they have experienced. Mother and baby spaces in Lebanon allow nursing and pregnant mothers privacy and somewhere they can receive nutritional advice.

As an international humanitarian agency dedicated to saving and improving lives, we are committed to supporting Syria’s refugees and the communities that host them for as long as they need us. 

The principle of humanity means that humankind shall be treated humanely in all circumstances by saving lives and alleviating suffering, while ensuring respect for the individual. It is the fundamental principle of humanitarian response and it has been sadly lacking for far too long when it comes to this refugee crisis. 

Europe has a moral duty to provide an organised, dignified welcome and support mechanism to these refugees, ensuring they have access to basic needs – including food, water and shelter. 

Action Against Hunger will not turn its back on those risking their lives to survive in desperate conditions or fleeing unimaginable danger, poverty and fear in the hope of securing a better tomorrow for themselves and their loved ones. 

We must enable refugees to live their lives in dignity. And, with your help, we will endeavour to continue to help families in urgent need.

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