Syria crisis: Background
Millions of people in Syria have fled their homes to escape the fighting. Now many face privation and a future filled with uncertainty.
How the conflict started
The Syrian Arab Republic is located on the Mediterranean Sea and bounded by Turkey, Iraq, Jordan, Israel, and Lebanon. When the Arab Spring swept through the region in 2011, the government of President Bashar Al-Assad, whose Baath Party has been in power since 1963, was targeted by citizens for reform. But when demonstrators were met with force, the movement for reform quickly evolved into a full-scale uprising.
Two years later, the country has been ravaged by armed conflict between the Syrian army and pro-government paramilitary forces and an array of rebel groups. Around 100,000 people have died in the violence.
The crisis within a crisis
But the stories of war in Syria are overlooking a fast-growing emergency: millions of Syrians have had to leave their homes to escape the fighting. Most remain in Syria, where more than a third of the population is in urgent need of humanitarian assistance; two million have fled to neighboring countries. Far too many people have had to leave home with nothing but the clothes on their backs and now face huge obstacles to providing their families with basics like food, water, shelter, and medical care.
"I was at school when it was bombed. Some of the children were killed. We all ran away. We left because we were afraid of the bombings in Syria." -- Reema, a 12-year-old refugee living in Lebanon