“Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, after re-taking all of Eastern Ghouta, has begun a campaign to re-take rebel-held areas around Homs. After witnessing the dissipation of any formidable rebel opposition to Assad and the fall of ISIS, Assad is now on a quest to eliminate the remaining pockets of rebels.
But as the war drags on and international actors get involved, it has begun mutating.
It is now less a civil war and more a regional launchpad to project power and stake out interests. Iran, Russia and Turkey are all working to cement their respective positions in the country as a way of expanding their reach, and this process is the one grabbing headlines and captivating audiences.
For many Syrians on the ground however, the situation is more dire than ever even if major media outlets have all but lost their interest in the human dimension of the war.
There’s reason to believe that Assad’s rise, which is presumed to bring about the end of violence, may actually worsen the humanitarian situation in some parts of the country. Meanwhile, Syrian refugees in and outside of their country risk being forgotten as the world moves on from the conflict, assuming that it’s all but over.
A Desperate Situation Inside Syria
“That the need for humanitarian assistance is far from over. It’s even more acute than ever before,” said Minhaj Hassan, a spokesperson for Islamic Relief USA, which has helped over 4 million Syrians so far.
On top of that, Hassan adds that it is extremely difficult to actually reach populations inside Syria. This reality was echoed by Tamara Kummer, a spokesperson UNICEF’s MENA office:
“Humanitarian access to hard-to-reach or besieged areas remains extremely challenging. The ability of humanitarian partners to deliver assistance to people in need is hampered by multiple factors including security concerns, administrative delays and restrictions on the delivery of medicines and medical equipment.”
The scale of the Syrian war too, continues to expand as the conflict slowly breaks the country from the inside out:
“In Syria and neighboring countries nearly 8.5 million children need humanitarian assistance. Entire families have had to flee violence leaving behind all of their belongings – some multiple times. Nearly 5.5 million children have been displaced inside Syria or into bordering countries,” Kummer stated.
Strained Resources Outside Syria
“Humanitarian needs continue to grow by the day inside Syria and in neighbouring countries, while pressure on generous host communities is seriously jeopardizing their ability to make ends meet,” Kummer continued, stating that UNICEF is chronically underfunded and has, to date, only received about half of the money for which it has asked.
Inside Jordan, which has hosted over two million Syrian refugees since the start of the war, local NGOs are struggling to cope with the sheer amount of need.
One organization called the Collateral Repair Project (CRP), has been trying to provide health and educational services to refugees from several regional conflicts.
“Many still can’t legally work here, and very few will ever find resettlement in the West,” said Judy Oldfield-Wilson of CRP. “They can’t go home.”
To finding a modicum of wellbeing in their host countries, many refugees struggle with economic and social integration, something that NGOs may be increasingly unable to handle. “There always is the fear that war in a particular country or regions become normalized in people’s minds and the worst case scenario is that donor fatigue sets in,” said Hassan of Islamic Relief USA. ”
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