According to the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees the number of Syrian refugees is now over 2.3 million. The UNHCR also says that within Syria there are 4.2 displaced people as a result of the civil war that has been going on between Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad and primarily a Sunni-fundamentalist-led rebel force, with both sides allowing and engaging in attacks on civilian targets. The Kurds, who are about 9% of the Syrian population and traditionally have had a role in the Syrian government now are targeted by both al-Assad and the rebels.
The ongoing attacks on civilians have been shocking and heartbreaking. The government has engaged in air raids on civilian targets. One such raid, on the city of Aleppo, resulted in more than 300 deaths. During the past few months there were some hints that the US and Obama may have some interest in supporting those at the forefront fighting against the Syrian president, but to support an Islamist-absolutist force dead set against any form egalitarianism or freedom of thought seems like something other than a good idea.
Twenty percent of people now living in Lebanon are newcomers. They are just some of those that have fled the violence and terror being dished out against the civilian population in Syria. OXFAM is helping re-settle people in Jordon and Lebanon. Almost half of the refugees are reported to be children. This is looking as though it may be the harshest winter on record
for the region. With a million plus children living through the winter in tents, the need is obvious. UNICEF has warned of the combined effects of a harsh winter living in tents, babies and infants and probably about 200,000 pregnant women.
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I urge you to donate to OXFAM and the other charities I mention below related to this issue. A UNHCR statement on the issue reads, “These children, women and men have made perilous journeys across country borders in search of safety. They are traumatized and fearful for their lives. Many are also physically wounded or suffering from illness and disease.” This sums up the situation and the need. With the extreme cold that it appears will hit the region over the next few few months, babies, the sick and young children will be at risk for pneumonia. It is a bit too late for a Merry Christmas, we should do our best to try to make it as much of a Happy New Year as possible. I very much encourage you to help the Syrian refugees.
UNHCR the UN High Commissioner for refugees
Doctors without borders
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