The parading of a few political leaders representing – externally and internally – all sides in the Syrian civil war obscures the expanding and greatest tragedy in the destruction of that nation: Refugees, including millions of children, who have fled and are, in effect, stateless.
The refugee count has surpassed 2 million, and more than 1 million are children.
The United Nations, which is usually at its best in humanitarian efforts, reported earlier this month through its offices for children’s concerns and refugees, “The tide of children, women and men crossing borders has risen almost tenfold over the past 12 months, figures released (by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) show … on average, almost 5,000 people take refuge in Syria’s neighbors every day.”
The tide is so large that thousands of expatriate Syrians have taken refuge in Western Europe, from southern Italy to Scandinavia.
“Syria has become the great tragedy of this century – a disgraceful humanitarian calamity with suffering and displacement unparalleled in recent history,” said the UN high commissioner for refugees, Antonio Guterres.
The number of people displaced inside Syria remains at around 4.25 million, and about 3.1 million of them are children at risk.
Refugee camps in the countries bordering Syria are overflowing. A majority of the refugees fleeing Syria are Muslim, but substantial numbers of other religious groups also are represented in Syria’s population, including an estimated 1.3 million Christians, mostly Orthodox, but also Roman Catholic and Protestant.
Assistance should be offered without regard to religious identity.
Human suffering, especially children, cries for compassion and mercy.
Virtually all American churches with central international mission offices are involved in accepting funds for refugees, as is the American office for UNICEF – http://inside.unicefusa.org.
Assistance is urgently needed for millions made homeless by a war that offers nothing good for anyone involved.