Four years of civil war in Syria: “Facets of war”

by Steffi Gentner/LKO, 2015/07/31

For four years already, the Syrian conflict, which is getting ever more brutal and desperate, has forced its population to flee the country. Far away from their homes and cities, the Syrians are obliged to observe the destruction of their home country, one the cultural center of the Middle East. Nobody can say when they will be able to return to Syria. In fact, they rather ask about whether they will be able to return one day. Thus, meanwhile nearly four million Syrians are living in the neighboring countries Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan and Iraq, partly under inhuman conditions.

What does such a life do to a person? To a mother, who has left her husband and sons in the fights? To a child, whose future has been taken away by a greater conflict? What does the existence of millions of refugees do to the small county Lebanon? When has the absolute limit been reached?

The new humedica series “Facets of war” focuses on these questions lends the refugees a face and explains the clout of a conflict of this dimension.

What remains?

In the fifth and last part of our series about the civil war in Syria and its victims, we focus on the inevitable question about the future development for the refugees, as well as for the receiving countries and for humanitarian aid. Which challenges will the involved parties be faced with in the future? How do refugee children get fair prospects? And what will finally be left over for these people in distress?

Immense challenges for the refugees, as well as for the receiving countries

The continuing violence in Syria is confronting the refugees, as well as the receiving countries with even more difficult and even bigger tasks. Meanwhile, in Lebanese Bekaa valley alone, directly at the Syrian border, there are more than one thousand informal refugee settlements of more than four tents.

Even if the number of newly registered refugees has fallen from 10,000 a week in August to 3,000 at the moment, this fact is only due to the new Lebanese visa regulations, which oblige incoming Syrians to show up with an accommodation as well as financial securities. From the point of view of small Lebanon this is probably comprehensible, if you know that meanwhile there have been 1.2 million registered refugees for 4 million Lebanese citizens. But despite bureaucratic barriers, the number of people seeking shelter continues growing – there is no end in sight.

And thus, the receiving country Lebanon is still facing the immense challenge of making help for the Syrian refugees possible, without neglecting its own needy population. The acceptance with the latter is continually declining because of the ever scarcer resources and the ever bigger competition on the labor market.

Only for the Syrian refugees themselves the challenges are even bigger: Because of the – at least official – interdiction to work and the increasing shortages in humanitarian aid, many are faced with the existential question how to survive with their families. According to estimates, a refugee family of five needs at least 435 dollars per month to assure their subsistence level. Those, who don’t have the money, are forced to rely on the support of help organizations.

Especially the focus on food supply has meanwhile become a reason for great concern: Due to a lack of money, the World Food Program has enormously reduced its support. Now, the electronic food cards, which are distributed to registered refugee families, are only worth 13.50 Euros per month. This is a daily rate of 45 Cents and, thus, much too little to survive in a comparably expensive money like Lebanon. It remains unclear, how the non-registered refugees and their families without any food cards will be able to assure their existence in the future.

A lost generation

The conflict in Syria, with all its cruel and fatal consequences, has hit the children especially hard. An ever growing number of children must contribute to the living of the family by doing child labor and resigning school education – provided there is any at all. Even if there are great common efforts made by national and international parties to grant access to school education for as many children as possible, they only reach about a quarter of all refugee children in Lebanon.

However, the country does its very best: The children who have been reached receive remedial lessons, psychosocial support and free transport to the next school. Moreover, there are training measures for teachers, to get the children used to the Lebanese curriculum as fast as possible.

But given the current pre-conditions, even in the future not all refugee children can be reached, despite greatest efforts. The conflict in Syria has given birth to a lost generation, which hasn’t known anything else in their lives but war and flight. It still remains unclear, when and if they will ever be able to return to rebuild their former home country.

That’s why it is most important to assure the children’s nutrition, education and medical care now by comprehensive international help, to give them at least the chance for a better future.

The help must go on

The seemingly irresolvable challenges, which the Syrian refugees and their receiving countries, like Lebanon, are being faced with, only leave one possible instruction for action: International humanitarian aid must continue and must be clearly intensified. The unconceivable distress of the concerned people must be eased as much as possible.

Thanks to the support of the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs, humedica can continue its practical medical help for the Syrian refugees in Bekaa valley. Thanks to this help, everyday lives can be saved, ill persons can be treated and a minimum of humanity can be guaranteed. Today, nobody can tell, when the Syrian refugees’ martyr will find and end. So it is even clearer that it is our duty to help – Please become a part of it!

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