Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi
Syria’s civil war is said to be one of the worst humanitarian disasters of our time. The brutal war has raged for four years, and any resolution of the conflict still seems as remote as when the fighting first erupted. The war has resulted in the deaths of 220,000 people, half of whom are believed to be civilians. Bombings have destroyed crowded cities and horrific human rights violations are widespread. Basic necessities like food and medical care are sparse. According to reports from Syrian refugees, children are becoming increasingly hungry due to cuts in the amount of food being provided to them.
More than 11 million people have been displaced thus far. The UN estimates that 7.6 million people are displaced internally. The others, approximatey 4 million, have fled across the borders. The majority of Syrian refugees are living in Jordan and Lebanon. These are countries with weak infrastructure whose limited resources are nearing a breaking point under the strain. In August 2013, more Syrians escaped into northern Iraq at a newly opened border crossing. Now they are trapped by that country’s own insurgent conflict, and Iraq is struggling to meet the needs of Syrian refugees on top of more than one million internally displaced Iraqis.
While the conflict within the country is complex, with a multitude of groups fighting the Syrian government and each other, one fact is simple: millions of Syrians are suffering and in urgent need of help.*
In recognition of the urgency of the situation, BGR recently donated $12,000 to provide emergency relief to Syrian refugees, both those displaced within the country and those living in neighboring countries. This contribution has been divided evenly between six relief organizations working with Syrian refugees, as follows:
(1) Global Giving
This fund will support life-saving assistance and relief efforts for Syrians displaced by the conflict, both within Syria and in neighboring countries. The fund will help survivors and victims get necessary immediate relief supplies like food and hygiene kits, as well as provide long-term support through activities such as building water systems and providing educational supplies and job training.
The International Rescue Committee is providing relief to millions of uprooted people inside Syria; in neighboring Iraq, Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan; in Afghanistan; on the shores of Greece; and in 25 resettlement offices in the United States.
Medical Teams International’s primary goal in Lebanon [where Syrian refugees are settled] is health outreach. Basic health and dental care prevents and reduces the impact of disease on children, women, and men in the settlement. Additionally, they train community volunteers to provide household outreach and education complements ongoing health services at mobile medical units.
(4) Mercy Corps
They are delivering food and clean water, improving shelters and providing families with clothes, mattresses, and other household essentials. They are helping children cope with trauma and leading constructive activities to nurture their healthy development. And they are helping host communities and refugees work together to mitigate tensions and find solutions to limited resources.
(5) Oxfam America
In partnership with the Syrian Ministry of Water Resources, UNICEF, and other aid providers, Oxfam is now providing clean water to Syrians inside their country. They have been helping to repair water systems, including wells, and truck in water. So far, 45 projects have been completed and 14 others are being implemented.
UNICEF has been on the ground since the conflict began, helping to mobilize the largest humanitarian operation in history and working closely with partners to provide education, physical protection, psychological support and clothing to Syrian refugee children in Iraq, Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt and other countries; immunize children against disease; and provide millions of people with access to safe drinking water.
* The above information has been gathered from the websites of Mercy Corps and Oxfam America.