By Mallory Johnson
Syria’s conflict has devastated the nation. More than 240,000 people have been killed, including 12,000 children. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), over 3 million have fled to Syria’s immediate neighbors Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq. 6.5 million are internally displaced within Syria.
The number of refugees do not show any signs of slowing. Increasing numbers of refugees are attempting to reach Europe. Of the nearly 478,000 people who have arrived to Europe by sea in 2015, 54 percent of them come from Syria, the UN Refugee Agency says. Many refugees are in great need of supplies. Refugees need food, health assistance, clothing, shelter, and basic household and hygiene items. They need reliable supplies of clean water, as well as sanitation facilities. The World Food program had to cut food assistance to one-third of the Syrian refugees in the region.
Where are these refugees living? Iraq is hosting about 250,000 Syrians and is facing its own arm conflict. Turkey is hosting more than 1.9 million Syrian refugees. More than 1.1 million refugees are in Lebanon. Many refugees reside in abandoned buildings, sheds, spare rooms, garages, and in tent settlements. In Jordan, 630,000 refugees have settled with families or in rented accommodations according to World Vision. 80,000 live in Za’atari, a camp near the northern border of Syria.
Many refugee children are not receiving an education. Between 2.1 and 2.4 million school-age children are not attending school. The decline in education for Syrian children has been the sharpest and most rapid in the history of the region, according to UNICEF. The refugees that don’t live in camps are struggling to pay for rent and other expenses and can’t afford books, uniforms, and tuition fees for their children. Some children gave up on going to school in order to start working and to help provide for their families. The government in Lebanon have opened public schools to Syrian children, but language barriers, overcrowding, and the cost of transportation keep many refugee children out of school.
Many refugees have been seeking haven in Europe. Thirty-eight European countries recorded 264,000 asylum applications. The top five EU countries to receive asylum applications were Germany, France, Sweden, Italy, and the United Kingdom according to the UNHCR. UNHCR continues to be greatly concerned by forcible returns or barriers placed by some countries preventing the entry of asylum-seekers and refugees.
The economic situation in the region is having an impact on the capacity and readiness of many countries to strengthen their protection systems. Xenophobia and intolerance have led to incidents of discrimination and violence. States have responded by curbing irregular movements, including tighter border controls and detention and penalization of those entering illegally.
The refugees are facing many hardships. They have lost their homes and former lives. There are children who have lost their families and are all on their own. The refugees are facing discrimination and aren’t being helped. They live in poor conditions, barely scraping by. These are the many struggles that the Syrian refugees are facing right now.