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NPR reported today that Syria could be on track to become the world's largest source of refugees. They could have even more than Afghanistan, which has been in conflict for the last four decades. And the refugees are straining resources of host countries.

Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia was so moved by the image, he took to the Senate floor, saying "a country of 23 million people, a proud country, is being transformed before our eyes to a land of rubble, skeletons, refugees and ghosts."
Aid groups need to start looking at the long-term needs of host countries, like Jordan and Lebanon, says Nigel Pont of Mercy Corps.

"This is a refugee crisis that isn't going away," Pont says. "The bordering countries are being destabilized both by the conflict and by the refugee presence itself, and there's a real need to invest in the communities."

The National Journal reported in more detail on Kaine's speech. The original news release from Kaine's office is here.

"More than nine million Syrians need humanitarian aid," Kaine said. "But they've not been able to receive basic humanitarian aid -- food and medicine -- due to the actions of the Bashar al-Assad regime and also due to the complicity of the regime's patron, Russia. The denial of humanitarian aid is a war crime, pure and simple. Thousands are dying of starvation. Cases of tuberculosis, polio, typhoid and other diseases are expanding at an exponential rate. And none of this is an accident. The Assad regime is using forced starvation and forced sieges as a weapon to destroy the Syrian people."  
That is around 40% of Syria's population.

Given the fact that tuberculosis, polio, typhoid, and other such diseases are on the rise at an exponential, if the world fails to put a stop to the violence in Syria, this could turn into a worldwide health catastrophe as diseases that were once thought to be nearly eradicated would spread around the world again.

Kaine continued:

"Witness this photo. Look at the destruction. Look at the rubble. Look at the throng of hungry people stretching into the distance. See the hunger in their faces and bodies, and look at the questions in their eyes. It is incumbent upon the Syrian regime to allow unhindered access of humanitarian aid to all Syrians. Opposition groups have that same obligation."

"When the Russian government and their people see this picture, it should remind them of their own history," Kaine continued. "During the siege of Leningrad during World War II, the Nazis used these same tactics, forced starvation and siege, as a tactic of war to cause horrible deprivation to the Russian population of that city. Russians should look in the eyes of these victims of intentional starvation and grapple with their responsibility to them. Russia can cause the Assad regime, just as it did in August, to open access so that these people can have food and medicine. Russia has finally agreed to words on paper at the U.N., but the world will watch the actions of this nation."

Kaine recently returned from a trip to Lebanon that he made with Maine Senator Angus King. He reported:
We're witnessing one of the worst humanitarian crises since World War II, and it can be stopped. It can be stopped. Last summer, my Armed Services colleague Senator Angus King of Maine and I visited Turkey and Jordan to explore the dimension of the refugee crisis in both of those nations. We visited refugee camps; we talked to government leaders and NGOs about the damage and the stressed communities that result from the unprecedented displacement of Syrians.

Last week the Senator from Maine and I visited Lebanon to see the scale of the Syrian crisis in that country. In a country of slightly more than 4 million people, there are already over 1 million Syrian refugees who have fled into Lebanon in the last three years. 1 in 4. Think of the scale of that refugee crisis if we were to receive in the United States war refugees of that scale, it would be 75-80 million people, nearly one in four.

In Lebanon last week we met with government leaders, NGOs and the UN High Commissioner on refugees, and what we learned was staggering. The Lebanese people have been unbelievably resilient and welcoming, almost beyond the point of belief. The water and health infrastructure of that nation are strained to the breaking point. The Lebanese economy, already fragile, is teetering. Schools in Lebanon now operate on double shifts with Lebanese children in the morning and refugees in the afternoon, accommodating tens of thousands of refugee children with more coming every day.

As Senator Kaine noted in his speech, refugees are even going into Iraq.

The problem is, too much of the world is indifferent to the crisis in Syria. And until the world wakes from its indifference, nothing will change.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (3+ / 0-)

    "The cost of liberty is less than the price of repression." - W.E.B. Du Bois Be informed. Fight the Police State.

    by Eternal Hope on Fri Feb 28, 2014 at 08:12:55 PM PST

  •  NPR should become the largest source of (0+ / 0-)

    refugees starting with Mara Liasson and Cokie Roberts. Refugees to Fox News.


    Pope Francis: the Thumb of Christ in the eyes of the Pharisees.

    by commonmass on Fri Feb 28, 2014 at 10:10:55 PM PST

  •  What if they gave a war (0+ / 0-)

    and everybody could leave?

    Back off, man. I'm a logician.—GOPBusters™

    by Mokurai on Fri Feb 28, 2014 at 11:33:44 PM PST

    •  That's part of it, in fact. (0+ / 0-)

      It's not just that the war in Syria is objectively severe, it's that Syria is a country with a lot of neighbors.  The war in Congo was pretty bad but it's a big place with hardly any roads, so people couldn't leave.  

      It's not the side effects of the cocaine/I'm thinking that it must be love

      by Rich in PA on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 05:47:41 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  But I mean, what if the innocent population (0+ / 0-)

        were welcomed and supported to leave, not just to squalid refugee camps just over the border in frontline states, but as immigrants to anywhere?

        What if we sent road builders into Congo, not just lightly-armed "peacekeepers" and grossly inadequate humanitarian aid?

        What if there were the political will to solve problems, and not offer only bandaids?

        What if the world did not say that saving lives costs too much?

        Back off, man. I'm a logician.—GOPBusters™

        by Mokurai on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 10:49:54 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  We in the United States (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    truong son traveler

    are of course, terribly upset about the human suffering caused by the Civil War in Syria.  That's why we've repeatedly sent weapons into the zone of conflict, where they've ended up in the hands of all four sides.  We have discussed at length increasing our humanitarian mission there by conducting air raids and drone strikes.  

    Further, by our actions we've shown our deep, deep concern for the well-being of the Syrian refugees. That's why we've accepted no less than 90 refugees from that conflict-ravaged land.  90! Our tender mercies are unbounded.

    "Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will." ~Frederick Douglass

    by ActivistGuy on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 01:45:32 AM PST

  •  Worth noting, from yesterday: (0+ / 0-)

    Drawn By Twitter And Trained In Syria, Terrorists Could Turn West

    The conflict in Syria has created a new threat: Terrorist groups working there might turn their sights on Europe or the U.S. Syria might be changing terrorism; does this pose a threat to the West?
    Very interesting dilemma, how do we separate refugees from terrorists?

    ''The guarding of military and diplomatic secrets at the expense of informed representative government provides no real security for our Republic.'' - Justice Hugo L. Black of the Supreme Court

    by geekydee on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 09:09:01 AM PST

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