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Syria Refugee Numbers Soar as Overwhelming Needs Abound

BY EDEN NELSON                                                                                ©2013 Baptist Press

A Christian worker involved in ministry among Syrian refugees makes a heartbreaking observation:

"Every family has a tragic story to tell of their journey that got them to where they are now."

Don Alan, the Christian worker, is trying to determine how to respond to the needs he confronts among Syrian refugees -- needs that are outpacing the funding his work receives.

And "that is a tragedy, that is sadness," Alan said. Even so, he sees signs of God's hand and God's plan unfolding in Syria's tragic events.

"For the first time we have been able to sit and share the Gospel with Syrian families, and they are responding," Alan said.

Alan seeks to point to the "only hope" that can be found in Jesus. "He is the only one who can bring light to the darkest situation, and Syrians are in their darkest hour.

"I am afraid that much of the world is not really keen to turn the light on to see what it looks like," Alan said, "and to me that reality is terrible....

"Jesus commands us to help those who are poor and destitute and forgotten by the world. We have a responsibility to share His love in a way that is a cup of water, a bowl of food, ways that meet their needs today -- so that they can face tomorrow with hope and a future."

According to Antonio Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the world has not seen an outflow of refugees "at such a frightening rate since the Rwandan genocide almost 20 years ago."

UNHCR officers report that 6,000 Syrians a day flee to nearby Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Turkey and Egypt to escape the horrors of the Mideast nation's civil war.

To date, the UNHCR has registered nearly 2 million people who have fled Syria, while an estimated 5 million internally displaced persons remain within Syria's borders.

Host countries are beginning to feel the strain of the magnitude of refugees, with Iraq now closing its borders to those fleeing Syria.
Guterres, in an address to the UN Security Council on July 16, issued a plea for the international community to keep their borders open to Syrians. He fears catastrophic results if Egypt, Turkey or Jordan also choose to close their borders. "We cannot go on treating the impact of the Syrian crisis as a simple humanitarian emergency."

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