Syria (MNN) – Everyday life in Syria has been far from normal since March 2011.
More than 100,000 people have been killed since civil war broke out between President Bashar al-Assad’s forces and a myriad of Syrian rebels. The number of Syrians fleeing their homeland for neighboring Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq increases daily.
According to UN figures released earlier this week, 9.3 million Syrians are now in need of outside assistance. That’s roughly 40% of the country’s population, and a jump of 2.5 million from September’s data.
“Those numbers are just unbelievable aren’t they?” asks Jeff Palmer of Baptist Global Response (BGR). “They’re just staggering. None of us can wrap our minds around those kinds of numbers.”
Refugees are running out of options, he adds. “They’re just trying to find places for their family to survive, and that’s why you’re seeing the spike,” Palmer says.
In a report released at the end of October, Amnesty International says many of Syria’s neighbors are turning its refugees away.
“There’s not enough camps to handle these refugees,” says Palmer. “The only camps are in Turkey and in Jordan.” He points to Lebanon as an example.
“One million Syrian refugees in Lebanon; there are NO Syrian refugee camps in Lebanon. People are just living in tents; they’re living beside the road. They’re living in hovels; wherever they can find.”
BGR works with national church partners inside Syria and in surrounding countries to meet refugees’ needs and share the hope of Christ.
“Taking care of people in need and showing them love in a time when they’ve experienced nothing but fighting, conflict and fear, is a great witness for the Gospel,” Palmer explains.
“Every aid agency, every NGO like ours would tell you, ‘It just seems like everything we do’s just a drop in the bucket because there’s so many needs there’. But every little drop is a family, is a child that gets fed, is a widow that gets helped, and it’s worth it…for the sake of bringing the hope and bringing the Gospel into a very needy area.”
With Syria constantly in the news, it’s easy to turn a deaf ear. But Palmer says there’s a face behind every statistic.
“Every one of those numbers has a story,” he says. “And that story was a relative, a husband, a wife…somebody who was lost to this conflict. None of them were untouched.”
Pray the eyes of those who can help are opened to the desperate needs in Syria.
“I wish I could take all the listeners with me about six weeks ago, when I was visiting these families and these refugees,” says Palmer. He shares some stories from his visit on a recent blog post.
“Unbelievable suffering, unbelievable fear, and yet still trying to find ways to get their families to survive,” he recounts.
“We would ask folks to pray that this conflict would end so that folks could go home and get back to their lives.”