As morning dawns on Aleppo, a historic city in northern Syria, people step out into the brisk spring air. In the city center, shops and markets are opening for the day, and you can hear pedestrians chatting in Arabic.
But venture outside the city center, and you’ll enter an entirely different world.
As you travel farther from the lively storefronts and houses, bits of shattered stone crunch under your feet. The scene around you transforms as the empty skeletons of crumbling buildings cast long shadows over your pathway.
Now you’re standing in the part of the city that looks abandoned, almost apocalyptic. No one is here. You can hardly believe it’s the same place.
Aleppo was once called the “Jewel of Syria.” Now, most of it is in ruins.
It’s a picture of total devastation — a reflection of a 13-year war made much worse by the earthquake in February. And Aleppo isn’t the only area that holds deep scars of Syria’s past. Millions of Syrians across the nation have been displaced in what the UN calls “the world’s largest refugee crisis.”
Millions of Syrians have lost their homes because of war and natural disasters
How did Syria’s conflict start?
In 2011, most of Syria was relatively unified, and its citizens lived peaceful lives. But a failing economy and growing discontent with the country’s leadership led to the Arab Spring — a period of time when many people in North Africa and the Middle East protested against their governments.
What began as peaceful protests soon turned into an all-out civil war between the Syrian government and rebel groups. To make matters worse, terrorist groups like ISIS quickly took advantage of the unrest and began capturing land in northern Syria in 2013.
Syrians fled for their lives as bombs destroyed their homes and ISIS began abusing and killing civilians. More than 6 million Syrians are now refugees in other countries, and 6.7 million remain displaced within their homeland.
Refugees like him live in constant fear of the future
The ongoing refugee crisis
Though ISIS is no longer a huge threat, the conflict between the Syrian government and the Syrian Democratic Forces continues, especially since outside countries have gotten involved.
And amid the ongoing war, Syrian refugees still struggle to survive each day. More than 400,000 people have been killed since 2011. Those who survived remain displaced in overcrowded refugee camps.
One of the biggest problems affecting refugees is unemployment. Without work, many families don’t have enough money to buy food and receive medical care. In fact, almost 90% of Syrians currently live below the poverty line.
The ongoing economic crisis has only made a bad situation worse. Due to rising prices, essentials have become more expensive than ever.
What’s more, almost half of all displaced Syrians are under the age of 18. Many of them have to work to help their families survive, so they don’t attend school. When children can’t get an education, their futures are negatively impacted — escaping the cycle of poverty becomes nearly impossible.
Syrians are struggling under high poverty and unemployment rates
A devastating earthquake
Just when the situation seemed like it couldn’t get any worse, two devastating earthquakes, one reaching a 7.8 magnitude, rocked Turkey and Syria in February of this year. The quakes caused widespread damage and tens of thousands of deaths. In Syria alone, it is estimated that as many as 200,000 more people were displaced because of the earthquakes.
Since the earthquakes, conditions in refugee camps have become deteriorated even further. They were crowded before, but now they’re flooded with a new wave of displaced people.
Many medical facilities were also completely destroyed. While these facilities were already overwhelmed and undersupplied, without them, countless sick and injured refugees have nowhere to go to receive help.
Despite the urgent situation, humanitarian workers and emergency aid couldn’t reach many areas of Syria in the days following the earthquake because of the political tensions and ongoing war. By the time aid finally arrived, thousands of people were living in deplorable conditions and desperate for help. For others, it was already too late.
The recent earthquake has worsened conditions for Syrian refugees
What can you do to help?
Though humanitarian aid has finally reached many Syrians in need, the needs are only increasing. And now that news of both the war and the earthquake have largely disappeared from headlines and reports, Syrians feel forgotten … again.
But YOU can answer their cries right now.
One of the most important things you can do is pray. We recently received several specific requests from our partner in Syria that you can join us in praying for:
— Many experienced pastors have left Syria’s churches. Pray for the remaining leadership as they decide what to do next.
— Pray that churches would be able to secure the resources needed to serve their communities.
— Pray that God will multiply a few resources to meet many urgent needs.
— Pray for new Christ-followers from Muslim and Jewish backgrounds to continue growing in their faith.
— Pray that Syrian Christians remain strong in the Lord as they navigate the ongoing crises.
Refugees like this boy need your help more than ever
Second, you can ensure Syrian refugees get the help they so desperately need by giving financially. When you donate, you’ll provide refugees with essentials like food, medical supplies, hygiene items, blankets, and much more. These supplies could be the difference between life and death.
Finally, you can make sure Syria isn’t forgotten. Share their needs with your friends and include them in your daily prayers. Ultimately, only God can bring true healing to Syria, and it will take years for the people to recover from their nation’s unimaginable devastation. But you can give help and hope to refugees struggling to move forward.
Will you help answer Syria’s desperate cries for help? You’ll not only meet physical needs and restore hope, but you’ll show hurting refugees the love of God in a tangible way.