As the world community prepares to mark World Refugee Day on June 20, the Baptist World Alliance® (BWA) is focusing on the plight of Syrians who have been displaced by the civil war that began in the Middle Eastern country in 2011.
The death toll from the civil war is estimated at more than 100,000. The United Nations estimates that the number of Syrian refugees has exceeded 1.4 million with the majority in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Egypt. More than four million are believed to be displaced inside Syria.
Rothangliani Chhangte, director of Baptist World Aid (BWAid), the relief and development arm of the BWA, traveled to Jordan and Lebanon in June to visit refugee camps and to observe work being done by Baptists and other local partners in the region to assist Syrian refugees in those countries.
The plight of the refugees, she said, is desperate. “In Lebanon, Syrian refugees already make up one fifth of the population. This is causing a tremendous strain on the local communities that are hosting the refugees,” Chhangte said. “The lack of housing has already driven up the price of rent in the country, making it difficult even for local Lebanese to pay for rent.”
In Jordan, “there are so many families who are in need who do not get any aid assistance and Jordanians worry about the long term effects this will have in their country.” She reported that BWA partners target those refugees who are not registered and have not received aid from the UN or other aid agencies.
Refugees face myriad problems. These include lack of security, poverty, inflationary prices, overcrowding and lack of proper housing, insanitary conditions, chronic diseases and children missing out on school.
But there is another problem that is even worse than those mentioned. “While they are grateful for the aid they receive and the safety they feel in Jordan and Lebanon, they also expressed a feeling of a loss of dignity, by being forced to accept handouts from other people,” Chhangte said. The hope, she said, is that BWAid, working with partners in Jordan and Lebanon, “will be able to help them get their dignity back with our generosity so they need not have to beg for food and assistance.”
Chhangte is appealing to the international Baptist community for assistance. “At the moment the best way to help is to send money.”
She also said “they want our advocacy and they also want our prayers. BWAid partners also welcome international medical teams to help out in their clinics by providing free medical check-ups for refugees.”
There are also requests for English language teachers in Lebanon and volunteers who can work with children in both Jordan and Lebanon.
Donations may be made online at www.bwanet.org.
Medical teams and teaching volunteers may write to [email protected].
Baptist World Alliance®
© June 19, 2013