Today the UN High Commissioner for Refugees announced that the number of Syrian refugees has risen to 4 million since the conflict began in 2011.
Most of these refugees have fled to surrounding countries, where a massive strain has been placed on public services and infrastructure of host communities.
Ray Offenheiser, President of Oxfam America said, "A 'fate worse than death' is how some of the four million Syrian refugees now registered in countries neighboring Syria describe what it's like to watch the towns and cities in which they left everything behind crumble under mortar attacks and barrel bombs, waiting endlessly for help that does not come while the humanitarian assistance on which they've relied is cut back.”
Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey have increasingly restricted or even closed their borders, trapping more and more people in a warzone. Forced evictions, raids on refugee settlements, and curfews imposed on communities have increased. A number of refugees from Syria have even been forcibly returned to the country, where the risks to their lives that had made them flee in the first place remain. Outside the region, just two percent of the refugee population have been offered a lifeline through resettlement by other nations.
Oxfam America is calling for the U.S. to do more to support refugees and the countries hosting them. Many of the communities that have generously stepped forward to provide help had limited means to begin with. Infrastructure in these countries is strained now more than ever. Providing extra support is therefore vital, while encouraging them to respect the rights of refugees and the ability of people to flee the terrible violence in Syria.
Ultimately, however, the massive and crucial aid effort is not a solution. With options running out for refugees, as well as the resources of their generous hosts, what the people of Syria need urgently is an end to this conflict.
We need to do all we can to push our leaders to forge a lasting peace in the region. Urge President Obama and Congress to help end the bloodshed in Syria.