While the UN Security Council committed last Friday to the elimination of chemical weapons in Syria, the overall Syrian conflict rages on and its impact intensifies on the surrounding region.
The BBC recently ran on its website an article entitled, “Syria conflict: Neighbours plead for international help”, which helps to illustrate the consequences of the conflict on both the Syrian people and the region as a whole. I highly recommend a read; links are provided below.
Among other things, the article provides valuable insight on two points: first, the conditions of the refugee camps where many have been forced to live; and second, the number of Syrians displaced throughout the region.
On the first point, the BBC article provides a glimpse inside the refugee camps in northwest Jordan. The Zaatari camp eclipsed 130,000 residents by its first anniversary in July 2013. It is now the 2nd-largest refugee camp in the world and the fourth-largest city in Jordan. A second camp is being built now to support another 130,000, which could reach capacity fast with some 2,000 refugees arriving each day. The photos in the BBC article show the Zaatari camp grow from nothing a year ago to a sprawling settlement in the desert today. In some ways, the camp resembles any community, in both the good and the bad. There are schools, hospitals, and small businesses … and there are gangs, violence, and disease. And rather unfortunately, camps like Zaatari are more than just temporary housing; they are likely permanent or semi-permanent homes for their residents.
To the second point, the article shows the rather striking numbers of displaced Syrians. In a country of just over 22 million people pre-conflict, some 2 million Syrians have fled to neighboring countries. Another 4+ million are displaced within Syria. That includes:
720,000 to Lebanon (overall population of Lebanon: 4.43 million)
520,000 to Jordan (population: 6.32 million)
464,000 to Turkey (population: 74.0 million)
172,000 to Iraq (population: 32.6 million)
111,000 to Egypt (population: 80.7 million)
and 4,250,000 displaced with Syria.
Displacement on such a vast scale carries a high potential for disrupting the region as a whole. Lebanon and Jordan are now each hosting a Syrian refugee population that comprises a substantial proportion of their own populations. Even in larger countries like Turkey, Iraq, and Egypt, such a large influx of refugees threatens to raise heightened tensions ever higher. Add all this to a region that has already experienced mass migration several times over the past few decades – from conflicts in Lebanon, Iraq, and Palestine, particularly – and the risks of creating a widespread crisis become all the more clear.
Of course, for the thousands living in camps and millions more displaced throughout the region, the crisis is real and without any end in sight.
Read the article here:
Find photos and information on the refugee camps here:
And take look at one of RIJ’s projects supporting Syrian refugees here: