This was originally posted on June 13, 2015. The post was accidently deleted while using the mobile app. Since I wrote this the crisis in Syria has exploded. It is estimated that there are now around 50 million refugees in the world today, the most since WWII.
“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is not to act, not to act is to act.” – Deitrich Bonhoeffer
30,000 people a day are forced to flee their home because of violence or fear of persecution. Refugees spend an average of five years in a refugee camp waiting for a chance to resettle in a new country, less than 1% get that chance.
There is an estimated 11 million Syrians who have been displaced, since the civil war started in 2011. United Nations High Commissioner (UNHCR) estimates around 3 million have fled to neighboring countries such as: Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq. 6.5 million refugees remain in Syria. More than four years after the war began, it is estimated to have killed 222,000 people, half were citizens.
On July, 26, 2012 the first official refugee camp for Syrian refugees, called Za’atari, opened in Jordan. In March 2015 there were an estimated 83,000 refugees. Za’atari is slowly becoming a permanent city.
Along the main street, the camp is like a market. There refugees can buy food, clothing, and find basic housing. There have been altercations between the refugees at the camp, a main reason is the lack of food. A second camp was established after the camp reach maximum capacity housing 60,000 refugees. This second refugee camp was built 20 kilometers east from Za’atari in Jordan. On April 5, 2014 there was a riot and a number of people, both refugees and Jordanian police, were injured. One refugee was killed by a gun shot.
When Syrian refugees make it to the camp they still are in danger. Their new enemies are starvation, disease, and the violence that develops between refugees because of the scarcity of food. Some refugee camps serve as headquarters for rebel organizations. They use the camps for recruitment, support, and training to exploit refugees basic needs .
Refugees have to wait an average of five years in a camp before they can get permission to enter a country for asylum.
Where were you five years ago? That is a long time to wait for help. Every year 50,000-70,000 refugees come to the U.S. seeking safety. Refuges who are entering the United States are interviewed by the UNHCR and U.S Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services, only those escaping persecution are eligible for entry. When refugees come to the U.S on a travel loan they must repay the cost of their travel expenses. Each refugee is assigned to an agency to provide basic needs during their first 90 days in the U.S. Refugees need to establish self-sufficiency through housing, transit, learning English and job skills. Three months is not very long, they are facing much new pressure and in such an unfamiliar environment.
The Lost Boys of Sudan
The Lost Boys of Sudan are a group of 20,000 boys who were displaced during the second Sudanese Civil War (1983-2005). The name “The Lost Boys of Sudan” was given to them by Aid workers at a refugee camp in Africa. Around 2.5 million people were killed during the war. Most of the boys were orphans, most were separated from their families when government soldiers and rebels attacked their villages. Many of them escaped being killed or taken to be soldiers because they were tending their cattle when their villages were attacked. They kept their cattle near water and were able to hide in the thick brush. The surviving children traveled for years looking for a safe place. They found shelter in refugee camps in Ethiopia and Kenya. A few went to villages in South Sudan. On the journey, half of the boys died from starvation, diseases, and attacks from wild animals, soldiers, and rebels.
Most of the woman and young girls, in the villages that were attacked, were raped and sold into slavery. At the refugee camp in Ethiopia, the boys and girls were put into separate areas of the camp. In Sudanese culture girls cannot be alone, so they were placed with surviving family members, or adopted by other families. When the resettlement program to the U.S started, only orphans were, so the girls who were placed with family members, or other families for 9-14 years, were no longer considered orphans, and were not able to be in the resettlement program.
From 1992-1996, 1200 of the Lost Boys were reunited with their families, because of UNHCR however, 17,000 remained in refugee camps in 1996.
The current Civil War in Sudan started in December 2013, nothing has really changed. For more information on what the current situation is like in Sudan since the current civil war started in 2013. This is an excellent article with illuminating pictures. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/06/09/un-base-south-sudan-photos_n_7544794.html?utm_hp_ref=tw
Here is more information about refugees:
Adopt a Refugee:
United Nations High Commissioner (UNHCR) http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/home
God Bless You,