CRS Syrian Refugee Update

CRS Global Emergency Snapshot May 2016
Rama attends the CRS-supported Latin School of Naour in Amman, Jordan, part of the CRS outreach to Syrian refugees.  Photo by Oscar Durand/CRS

It is easy to think of people we do not know as being strangers or the “other.”  I was struck by something that  Abraham Maslow said.  He believes that humans have an intense need to belong, to have a sense of community with one another – in Church speak we call it solidarity.  Believing that at our core we are all humans in one human family.  This explains our common need to be part of families and bonds created in organizations ranging from the workplace to fraternal associations to platoons.  Those refugees suffering a half a world away are part of our human family and at our core, there is the human instinct to stand in solidarity with them.

Since the March 20th EU-Turkey arrangement and with the political chaos in the USA the news media seems to have dropped the refugee crisis for now, yet it continues.  Below is a report from Catholic Relief Services that serves as an update.  Things are not improving for the refugees, they are getting worse.  The report summarizes the situation and describes the assistance being provided.  We can and should do more.  These are our fellow humans, real families, real and truly decent men, women and children who are suffering, they are not the “other” or in anyway less than you or me.


The needs of war-affected Syrians, within and outside the country, continue to grow. More than 11 million people are believed to have fled their homes, and fighting in Aleppo, the largest city, and elsewhere is displacing more civilians every day. Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon bear the heaviest burden, together hosting more than 4.1 million refugees. Egypt, Greece and other European countries have taken in hundreds of thousands. Half of all displaced Syrians are children, and the vast majority have been out of school for years.

Over the past 5 years, the Syrian conflict has claimed at least 250,000 lives. CRS has assisted more than 1 million war-affected Syrians, with food, shelter, water, medical assistance, education and trauma healing. Russian-led offensives in northwestern Syria over the past 6 months have forced us to continually adjust our services as refugee communities relocate. CRS is providing relief to refugees in Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt, and in Europe.

In the past year, CRS and our local partners have provided  assistance to more than 350,000 refugees and migrants in Europe. About 50 percent are Syrians, and a significant minority are Iraqis. Since March, the refugee and  migrant crisis has changed. Instead of thousands traversing borders daily, people are now stranded—primarily in Greece—as borders have closed. Seventy percent of the more than 1 million refugees who arrived in Europe last year came through Greece—a significant challenge for the country. Approximately 55,000 refugees and migrants are stranded there. Several thousand more are stuck in Macedonia, Serbia and Croatia.

With their options in flux and conditions increasingly perilous, refugee families need food, basic supplies, shelter, and clear information about legal options for seeking asylum and international protection. CRS has shifted programming toward medium-term support to these vulnerable people in limbo, focusing on temporary shelter and cash for highly vulnerable families. We are working closely with Caritas partners in Greece, and in Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia, Albania and Bulgaria. Support has included food, winter clothing, hygiene supplies, legal aid and translation assistance.

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