Thousands of refugees stream across the Tigris River from Syria into Iraq. Photo: Galiya Gubaeva/UNHCR
By David Tereshchuk
In this month of December 2014 the already massive flow of people displaced by Syria’s violent conflict since 2011 is approaching a new, dramatically high point.
Those forced to abandon their homes are now set to make up a somber statistic: half of their nation’s entire population.
More than 3 million Syrians have fled abroad to find refuge in other countries—while nearly 7 million are classed as displaced persons within their own borders.
It represents a phenomenal tide of dislocated humanity, and largely because of this Syrian upheaval, the United Nations calculates the global total for displaced persons to have now surpassed 50 million—more than at any time since World War II.
Simultaneously, the funds raised internationally to assist all these homeless Syrian families are running short. The UN’s World Food Program reported at the beginning of December that it will have to curtail its provision of food vouchers to the displaced Syrians it helps; the vouchers enable families to buy food locally in their new temporary locations.
The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is determined that the dispossessed of Syria should not be forgotten.
“Can you imagine the impact of such violent disruption?” asked the Rev. Jack Amick, UMCOR’s assistant general secretary for International Disaster Response. “Consider if you walked down the streets of your neighborhood, and discovered that half of your neighbors had been driven from their homes.”
He added: “At Christmastime, we look at the manger scene, but we can forget that The Holy Family basically were displaced persons. When we pray for peace on earth this Christmas, let’s remember those whose lives have been turned upside down because in recent times, they have known no peace.”