Middle East (MNN) — 2.5 million Syrian refugees. 6.5 million Internally Displaced People (IDPs). And to top it all off, there’s no end in sight. The Syrian crisis seems to be surrounded by nothing but bad news.
E3 Partners Middle East expert Tom Doyle recently spoke with MNN from the Middle East.
“Despite some of the saddest things that you would ever imagine with this brutal, terrible war…Jesus is breaking through and setting people free,” reports Doyle.
Doyle and his team are meeting with Syrian refugees and their families, assessing needs, and providing help where they can. Continual fighting between rebel forces and the Syrian government is expanding this dangerous mission field daily.
There are currently 584,000 Syrian refugees living in Jordan, according to UN figures. Lebanon holds over 1 million, Turkey has 642,000. There are 227,000 in Iraq, and 135,000 in Egypt. Syrian refugees may have escaped immediate danger in their homeland, but their trials haven’t ended yet.
“After escaping the horrors of war at home, hundreds of thousands of Syrians… are facing a second crisis in their place of refuge,” shares Andrew Harper, UNHCR’s representative in Jordan.
“Syrian refugees in Jordan are hanging by a thread–struggling to keep a roof over their heads and earn enough money to get by.”
Sometimes, Syrian refugees turn to exploitation so that they can earn money to buy food. At other times, human trafficking is an unintended consequence.
Sarla* and her family, along with 500 other Syrians, were captured by the government when they tried to flee the country. Officials kept them locked up for four days without food. Somehow, Sarla escaped the place they were being held and began begging for money on the side of the road.
She was hoping to bring some sort of food back to her family, and without God’s protection, Doyle says Sarla could easily have become another statistic.
“It would’ve been easy for someone to just grab her and take her,” he states. “I mean, it’s the Middle East: the sex slave industry is huge.”
Already home to 25% of Syria’s refugee population, an estimated 12,000 new refugees cross into Lebanon each week.
“When you look at the growth of the refugee population from a trickle to a few thousand to now a million over three years, that goes far beyond the resilience that one expects of Lebanon,” says senior UN official Ross Mountain.
Lebanon’s infrastructure is about to pass its breaking point. According to the UN, “Water, sanitation, and waste management systems are already weakened to the point that serious health consequences are emerging for refugees and locals alike.”
In addition, Syrians are competing with Lebanese in the job market, wreaking havoc on the country’s economy. A recent report from the Wall Street Journal explains that Lebanese in the Bekaa Valley formerly charged $50 to $60 per day for construction work. Syrians will do the same job for $10 a day.
A 2012-2013 poll of 92,000 Syrian refugee families found that 49% were completely dependent on humanitarian assistance and charities for their income. At the same time, expenditures continue to rise. Rent fees, already comprising two-thirds of a refugee family’s meager income, are going up across the board.
If Lebanon collapses under the staggering weight of Syria’s refugee population, there’s not much hope for the region.
“Lebanon is a key pillar in the international framework for the protection of Syrian refugees, and without it, that entire system would collapse,” the UN High Commissioner for Refugees stated earlier this week.
Although the influx of Syria’s refugees is pushing neighboring countries to their limit, it’s a chance for nonbelievers to see Christ’s love in action.
“You can go to all of the Middle Eastern countries where Syrians are coming, and it’s Christians that are waiting on them, feeding them, giving them clothes,” says Doyle.
E3 is meeting physical needs and sharing the Gospel with refugees. Click here to help.
“We just thank the good listeners of Mission Network News for praying and giving,” says Doyle, adding that E3 has already received many donations from MNN followers.
“Through the love and support of Christians around the world, Syrians are seeing that God has not forgotten them.”