Washington D.C., Sep 10, 2013 / 16:43 pm
Unable to enter refugee camps run by the United Nations, many Syrians fleeing from violence in their home country have found basic necessities and ongoing support from Catholic Relief Services in nearby Lebanon.
“When they come, they have nothing,” said Joan Rosenhauer, who serves as Catholic Relief Services’ executive vice president for U.S. Operations.
“You can hardly imagine what it’s like as a parent to go through this with your children,” she told CNA in a Sept. 9 interview, reflecting that the immensity of the refugee crisis “really strikes you when you see all the women and children” in the camps.
According to the United Nations, more than two million Syrians have fled the country, which has been entangled in a violent civil war for more than two years. In addition, more than four million people are estimated to be internally displaced as a result of the fighting.
Ongoing discussions of possible Western military intervention in the country have brought the Syrian crisis to the headlines in recent weeks, after reports of chemical weapon use against civilians outside of Damascus.
However, Rosenhauer warned that the plight of the refugees “can often get lost in this whole debate” over foreign policy.
She explained that “when people come, they’re often fleeing shelling” from bombing operations in Syria, and they frequently “just grab their children and run” across the border into neighboring countries, including Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq.
Many people “are there with nothing,” she explained. “Because they often leave without their identification, they often can’t even get into a U.N. system.”