In Syria, once the most stable country in the Arab world, civil war rages on. An estimated 6 million Syrians have been uprooted from their homes. More than 2.5 million people have poured into Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and neighboring countries. With women and children making up at least 70 percent of the refugees, the needs of children—many of whom are traumatized—are paramount.
The Syrian civil war has entered its fourth year. With no end in sight, CRS continues to help Syrian refugees forced to flee their homes for the safety of neighboring countries. Once a vibrant hub of Middle Eastern culture and history, Syria has been besieged by a violent civil war that has killed more than 120,000 people and left millions of families displaced and destitute. An estimated 2.5 million Syrians have fled across the border into Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and, more recently, Armenia and Bulgaria. Given that children make up half of the refugee population, the needs for their care, education and counseling are especially urgent.
Since the outset of the crisis 3 years ago, CRS has been working with dedicated Catholic partners across the region to provide critical medical assistance, food, hygiene and living supplies, counseling and education for children. Our teams continue to expand and adapt our programs, services and reach to the growing, and moving, population.
Impact to Date
CRS and our partners have assisted 250,000 war-affected Syrians with shelter assistance, winterized materials, food support, medical care, education for children and trauma counseling. Our health clinics are serving thousands, treating everything from life-threatening wounds to chronic illnesses. Our education programs are now serving 10,000 children, and counseling services are expanding to support not only children and women, but also couples. In Lebanon, we have completed a groundbreaking ecumenical program that brings young people of diverse faiths together to assist refugees. In Iraq, Egypt, Armenia and Bulgaria, we continue to scale up efforts to meet the growing influx of refugees.
Shelter and rent assistance: Monthly stipends and shelter assistance help families cover basic shelter needs, including paying for rent, and mitigate homelessness and squatting.
Food: Distributions of food feed hungry families. Where food is available locally, CRS provides cash and vouchers for people to purchase what they need. This keeps shop owners in business and injects cash into the economy.
Living supplies: Given that most refugees have nothing when they arrive, prepackaged relief kits equip new refugees with vital essentials like blankets and bedding, stoves, buckets, plates and utensils.
Hygiene and sanitation: Hygiene and sanitation helps prevent waterborne diseases that occur in crowded conditions. We provide families with soap, laundry detergent, diapers, sanitary napkins and other supplies to keep them healthy.
Medical assistance: Our medical care support includes immediate care for life-threatening wounds, as well as treatment for chronic diseases like diabetes. Given the demographics of refugees, care for pregnant women, new mothers and newborns are priorities. We are working to open more primary care clinics to serve the growing population.
Education, support and trauma counseling for children: CRS is supporting education, tutoring, recreational activities and trauma counseling for children. We are providing informal school classes—including educational materials, desks, chairs and teacher support—social and educational activities to keep children safe, and trauma counseling.