15 March, 2016
March 2016 marks fives years since the Syrian civil war began. Since then, almost 500,000 people have died as violence rages and tears the country to pieces. Millions more have become refugees, strangers in their own land, forced to desperately seek refuge in foreign lands. The crisis continuing to unfold is the worst humanitarian disaster of our time, according to Amnesty International. It has contributed to a global refugee crisis, with the largest number of refugees and displaced people since World War II. While most Syrian refugees have been absorbed in neighbouring countries like Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan, others have fled to Europe, seeking safety in Germany, Sweden, France, the UK – anywhere but Syria. In 2015, more than 476,000 refugees applied for asylum in Germany alone. These unprecedented numbers have presented logistical challenges, moral dilemmas and political upheaval. But they have also presented opportunities to serve. ADRA staff and volunteers all over the region have responded by welcoming refugees with open arms. Here’s a snapshot of the massive contribution ADRA is making right across the region.
- Lebanon – ADRA Australia funds a school for 120 Syrian refugee children between the ages of six and twelve. 270 refugee families in Lebanon also received cash assistance during winter to purchase items such as heaters, fuel, blankets and warm clothing.
- Iraq – operating a refugee camp and providing food and education to families and children who have fled fighting in Iraq.
- Jordan – Running an education program in more than 50 Jordanian schools has helped provide school supplies to more than 5,000 students and improve teacher training.
- Macedonia – packing food parcels to distribute to refugees arriving by train at the border.
- Croatia and Slovenia – providing food and shelter for thousands of refugees who have arrived in the country.
- Germany – working with 12 other groups under an umbrella organisation to collect money and in-kind donations
- Italy – Distributing food, clothes, and other forms of assistance
- Serbia – opened an asylum seeker information centre in the capital to assist refugees with vital services
- Austria – mobilising church members to assist refugees settle in the community and focusing on longer-term integration.