More than 5.6 million Syrians have been forced to flee their country since 2011 and another 6.6 million have been driven from their homes but remain trapped inside the country. The vast majority of Syrian refugees have found safety in neighboring countries – Turkey hosts more than 3 million.
When did the Syrian refugee crisis begin?
The Syrian refugee crisis is the result of a March 2011 violent government crackdown on public demonstrations in support of a group of teenagers who were arrested for anti-government graffiti in the southern town of Daraa. As violence increased, families began to flee. Within two months, the first refugee camps opened in Turkey – by March 2013, more than 1 million had fled Syria.
Where are Syrians fleeing to?
Syrian refugees have escaped to neighboring countries in the region with the overwhelming majority finding refuge in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan. Syrians refugees are living in urban centers as well as in makeshift shelters and informal settlements in places like Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley. Less than 10 percent of Syrian refugees live in camps.
What is the UN Refugee Agency doing for displaced Syrians?
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has been on the ground since the beginning of the crisis coordinating a massive refugee response. To help meet the needs of refugees living in urban centers, UNHCR has expanded its cash assistance program. In 2018, more than 108,000 refugees in Jordan received cash assistance to help meet basic needs like rent, medicine and food. UNHCR has also worked across conflict lines and has led efforts to provide shelter and lifesaving aid to millions displaced within Syria. By the end of 2018, UNHCR distributed winterization items like thermal blankets, solar lamps, plastic sheeting and winter clothes to nearly 800,000 Syrians.
How are Syrian children impacted by this crisis?
The crisis in Syria has stolen millions of childhoods and left them traumatized, vulnerable to exploitation and lacking access to basic rights such as education. Approximately 50 percent of all registered Syrian refugees are under the age of 18 – and millions have grown up knowing nothing but conflict. Host communities continue to expand access to schools for Syrian refugee children but resources are stretched thin. In Lebanon, 350 schools have added a second afternoon shift to help accommodate an additional 150,000 refugee students. But even with expanded access, more than 50 percent of school-aged children are still not in school.
What are some of the biggest challenges Syrian refugees face?
Eight years into the conflict, Syrian refugees continue to struggle for their lives. In Lebanon, 70 percent of Syrians live below the poverty line and in Jordan, an astonishing 93 percent live below the poverty line. Despite loosened restrictions on work permits in many host countries, Syrian refugees continue to struggle to find employment. Many refugees have been forced into the informal work sector where there’s an increased chance of being exploited.
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