Governments and nongovernmental agencies are struggling to keep up with the needs and pressures created by the displacement of nearly a third of Syria's population because of the country's civil war.
- Catholic News Service
Assistance to the refugees and displaced people is coming from around the world, although resources are thinly stretched. Representatives of several Catholic agencies that are involved at various levels told Catholic News Service that their programs include helping make sure children can go to school and get help dealing with psychological trauma, as well as providing the basics for survival, such as food, water, housing and medicines.
Resettlement agencies, including Migration and Refugee Services of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, meanwhile, are preparing for the possible need for new permanent homes in other countries for thousands -- or maybe hundreds of thousands -- of Syrians who may decide they can't go home.
Witnesses from the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development told a House hearing on September 19 that almost one-third of Syria's 22 million people have been displaced by the civil war, including an estimated two million who have fled the country - typically referred to as refugees - and about 5 million who have been forced from their homes but remain in Syria - generally called 'internally displaced.'
That makes the Syrian displaced population the largest in the world, and it has grown at a dramatic pace, said Anne Richard, assistant secretary of state in the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration.
She said the number of refugees from Syria climbed from 230,000 a year ago to more than two million now. Most have poured across Syria's borders to Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq, which are struggling to provide basic services such as food, water and housing to transient populations that in some towns exceed the number of permanent residents, she said.