The Syrian Journey

Courtesy of The Star

Less than two weeks after President Obama told his administration to raise the number of incoming Syrian Refugees entering the United States in 2016 from less than 1,500 to 10,000, the U.S. increased the number of incoming refugees from around the globe to 85,000. In 2017 it will rise to 100,000.

According to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, there are nearly 4 million refugees and 7.6 million individuals internally displaced within Syria.

As of September 4, 2015 According to Mercy Corps, surrounding countries of Syria have taken in around 4 million refugees.

Courtesy of Mercy Corps

Individuals that make this journey face constant dangers; similar instances like the Kurdi family are becoming more common.

The picture of Aylan Kurdi, the 3-year-old boy wearing a red shirt lying face down in the sand, sparked media attention. He was found alongside the Turkish border after the boat he was on flipped over do to high waves. His mother, and 5-year-old brother Galip were among the dead.

Jaber Nyrabeah, who serves on the national board of the Syrian American Council and is the president of the Orlando chapter of SAC, described it as a horror picture that he has seen over and over.

“The tough part about Aylan Kurdi’s photo is that I have a 6-year-old and he looks very similar and that made me cry,” said Nyrabeah.

He tributes the problem of the 11 million displaced individuals to the leader of Syria.

“The initial root problem is Assad, Assad is the president of Syria and he is the one who has been betraying his people with barrel bombs and chemical weapons,” said Nyrabeah.

Mike Kiernan, the spokesperson for Save the Children Federation, Inc., stated that his organization saw a major spike in donations after the picture of Kurdi surfaced.

“These child refugees are at great risk,” Kiernan said. “Protecting these children – and addressing their basic needs – is a tremendous challenge.

“We can – we must – do more,”  said Kiernan.

What is being done?

There are many organizations assisting with the refugee crisis, organizations such as: United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Save the Children, and the Syrian American Council.  

UNICEF, is an organization created in 1946. It is currently providing education, food, water, medicine and counseling to millions of children in Syria and surrounding countries like Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq, Jordan and Egypt.

UNICEF partners with various international and local partners such as the WFP, WHO and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent to supports the needs of children.

Vice President of Marketing & Communications for UNICEF, Francesco De Flaviis says   that the immediate goal is to keep children healthy, safe and to further their education.

“Many children are sleeping out in the open air; as winter approaches, the health of young children is especially at risk, including from the threat of diseases like pneumonia. Supporting children now will prevent more deaths and suffering in the months ahead. said Flaviis.

Save the Children staff is working to protect and support children and their families at informal camps located on three Greek islands: Lesvos, Chios and Kos.

Thousands of refugees are currently living on these islands and they are planning to set up emergency shelters where they can distribute the basic necessities– food, water, hygiene items and baby kits.

Syrian American Council’s main focus is to advocate freedom and democracy in Syria.

Nyrabeah said that the initial problem is to rid Syria of its current leadership.

For local refugees in the Orlando area SAC collects money to help syrian refugees and assist them with finding housing.