The problems of conflict and displacement in the world have a far reaching effect. The long term cost of war and displacement is immense, particularly for poorer countries. When conflict overruns a country, many neighboring countries are left with the obligation to support immense refugee populations with their own resources. Unfortunately, in most cases these host countries are often poorer countries that cannot adequately meet the needs of an ever increasing population of stateless people with no home or support.
As a result, refugee camps are all too often faced with overcrowding and poor living conditions. Those living in refugee camps have very few if no opportunities to improve their lives, or support their families. Many people are born and raised in these conditions as stateless people, with limited or no access to education, work, or basic human needs.
A pertinent example of this is the current refugee crisis in the regions surrounding Syria. With the civil war in Syria now stretching into years of conflict, the official number of Syrian refugees has exceeded 2 million, with approximately 5,000 new refugees crossing into neighboring countries each day.
The financial burden placed on Syria’s neighbors is extremely high. Neighboring countries Jordan, Iraq, Egypt, Lebanon and Iraq have already spent billions of U.S dollars supporting refugees (Egypt is itself in a politically tumultuous period, and still provides aid to Syrian refugees).
This has created a severe strain on their economies, creating economic downturns for the host countries’ citizens. Refugees themselves face poor living conditions as a result of host countries being unable to afford adequate care on their own.
The UNHCR has appealed for financial aid from the international community. Unfortunately, while foreign nations have contributed roughly half of the 3 billion dollars requested, Syria’s neighbors are in ever worsening economic and social health.
This shows that civil conflict and the care of refugees is a responsibility that goes beyond borders. As such, it falls to those of us who are financially able to share the burden that countries like Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, and Iraq are now bearing.