The forgotten faces of war
Approximately 150,000 Syrian refugees, mainly Kurds, fleeing threats from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and Monday’s U.S.-led airstrikes have crossed into southern Turkey since last Friday, according to the Associated Press. The southeastern Turkish town of Suruc, in Sanliurfa province, has seen tens of thousands of refugees, the majority of which are women, children and the elderly. They arrive exhausted and depleted after walking miles to safety on rough roads and carrying their belongings.
Speaking to NBC News’ Ann Curry on Tuesday, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) High Commissioner Antonio Guterres said he had no doubt Syrians represented the largest refugee population in the world. In the three and a half years since the conflict began, 3.3 million Syrians have fled the country and 6.5 million have been internally displaced. As the war with ISIS intensifies, said Guterres, so too will the flood of refugees.
Human rights advocates are urging world leaders to keep the focus on protecting civilians, even as the conversation shifts to U.S. airstrikes in Syria. Sunjeev Berry, Middle East & North Africa advocacy director at Amnesty International USA, told msnbc that Turkey should keep its border open to those fleeing from the Islamic State, and that the U.S. should do more to assist in resettling Syrians. Global funding is also far short of what the United Nations says is necessary to meet the humanitarian needs of the refugee population.
In February, the U.N. Security Council, consisting of the world’s most powerful nations, passed a resolution to end direct and indiscriminate attacks on civilians in Syria, and to ensure that humanitarian aid gets to the millions most in need. Six months later, Syrians are still waiting for relief.