Winter worsens Syrian refugee crisis

By January 2, 2013

Syria (MNN) — Peace continues to elude Syria.

Now, the dreaded "failed state" label looms after a Sunday report from the international envoy representing the United Nations and the Arab League. In it, Lakhdar Brahimi warns that without some resolution, Syria could follow in the path of Somalia, a failed state, where the government is whoever owns the most guns.

Brahimi's report points to an increasing cost of lives lost to violence, possibly more than 100,000 if something isn't done soon to stop the conflict. It's a report backed up by a warning issued by the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria. They say the escalating conflict seems to be increasingly sectarian.

Meanwhile, there are concerns that the number of people inside Syria needing help could rise sharply, from 2.5 million now to 4 million by early 2013. If nothing changes, the number of Syrians fleeing to neighboring countries could increase to around 700,000 in the same time frame.

Baptist Global Response partners, on the ground since June, now say that as the winter season begins, the most urgent need facing refugees is to prepare for four months of cold weather. Many of them left their homes in summer clothes and now face living in shelter made of tents, or abandoned buildings, where it is winter inside and out. Already temperatures are plunging to zero overnight in some of the hilly regions. More than a million of these people are just outside the reach of most international aid groups.

BGR can't help everyone, but their partners hope to support 500 refugee and hosting families, roughly 2,500 people by providing clothes, carpets, and blankets. It's admittedly a drop in the bucket. However, they're responding to those they can.

However, according to BGR reports, Christian workers are finding God at work among the refugees streaming across the border. In Jordan, where there are at least 250,000 Syrian refugees, local Christians and aid workers deliver food and other necessities such as diapers and personal hygiene items, and help newly-arrived families find shelter.

Because refugees are treated with decency and afforded human dignity, they begin to wonder about those who help them. The natural curiosity about kindness opens the door for Christians to share a little of their hope in Jesus Christ. Syrian refugees are glad to hear about the love of God as they see it demonstrated, and they have begun to understand the need to break the revenge cycle.

In fact, notes one BGR report, in one village an influential Syrian Muslim leader welcomed aid workers as they brought a large supply of food boxes for him to distribute to refugees in the community. However, the man told them,"We don't need your boxes of food. What we need is somebody to come and teach us how to walk in the way of Jesus and how we can forgive one another. We don't know how to live with each other."

Pray for true peace in Syria and that leaders will govern justly.


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