Now into its seventh year, the Syrian civil war has devastated communities, homes and families, displaced more than 6 million people within Syria, and driven over 5.3 million people to flee the country.
Their lives in ruins, thousands of Syrians continue to attempt the dangerous sea journey across the Mediterranean to Europe. In fact, according to a new IOM report, the Mediterranean route is by far the world’s deadliest, with over 33,000 people dying or missing at sea between 2000 and 2017. This summer alone, the Turkish Coast Guard rescued more than 9,700 people from the Mediterranean, the majority of them Syrian.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called the situation in Syria the great tragedy of this century, as families continue to be torn apart by the war, flee the violence, and suffer deep psychological and social trauma.
Sidra is one of the more than 2.5 million children forced to flee the war in Syria. Now living in Turkey, Sidra’s family did not know how to enroll her in school or provide needed health care. IOM was there to help the family obtain legal documents and open access to school for Sidra, where she is learning Turkish and aspires to become an artist or doctor.
As the civil war has raged on, more and more Syrians have been forced to leave their homes abruptly, unable to take with them the simple things that we take for granted. Clothing, valuables, food, water, pets and more are left behind. After a long, tiresome journey and upon temporarily placement in a shelter or refugee camp, IOM is there to distribute basic material goods and food to people in need.
Examples include IOM’s distribution of shoes to refugees living in Azraq camp in Jordan, and the delivery of hundreds of tents and 10,000 jerry cans to Syrian refugees in Iraq. IOM Iraq distributed water filters, rechargeable lights, cooking stoves, gas cylinders, blankets and pillows to Syrian families who had fled to Northern Iraq’s Domiz camp, where IOM and UNHCR worked together to build a 21,000-liter water tank that would be accessible to the camp residents.