Posted by Lisa Dittmar on Sep 04, 2015
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This is the second week of a five-part series on highlighting stories of immigration around the world. This week, we look at the refugee crisis in Syria. There have been a spate of stories that have hit the international news in recent weeks, from 71 migrants found dead in a truck in Austria, to numerous stories of death at sea during the dangerous crossing. Yet millions more are living in neighboring Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey, with very little hope for the future.
 
Spotlight on Syria - Syria in Numbers
 
 
Reception in Turkey, Jordan, and Lebanon
 
Although Syrian refugees have fled to numerous countries, the vast majority have ended up in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.
Lebanon - the smallest of the three, with a population of four million - has more than 700,000 registered refugees. Jordan and Turkey are hosts to more than 960,000 others.

Patricia Mouamar, advocacy and communications officer, World Vision Lebanon, shares how Lebanon is dealing with the influx.

If you talk to Lebanese, many say they've lost their jobs because Syrians are willing to work for less. At the beginning of the war in Syria, Lebanese willingly received Syrian refugees into their own houses, their spare rooms, even their education system. They were sharing everything with them, sharing their whole communities.

But as the war in Syria has become more protracted, there has been increasing tension between the communities. In some towns, the population has doubled. This has been putting a lot of pressure on health services, educational services. Waste management is not enough to cope.

If you talk to Lebanese, many say they have lost their jobs because Syrians are willing to work for less. Or that they have been evicted because Syrians share housing with many people, and so can afford rents that Lebanese cannot.
 
If you talk to Syrians, they say that some Lebanese have started to say that they deserve what has been happening to them. It is a result of the frustration, and the international community really needs to give aid and assistance to both sides.

It has been even clearer in schools. One of the main problems comes from the different levels of ability. Many Syrian children have missed out on school for a long time and are struggling to catch up. But the Lebanese children feel left out because of the attention teachers give to the Syrian children. One said to me: "I feel like I'm in a Syrian school."

Wherever you go, in every single corner of Lebanon there are refugees. They are scattered all over, not in one place - this crisis is affecting all of Lebanon. It is a population of four million and you are adding more than a million. That means one in five people are refugees.
 
 
 
 
 
Perspectives from Jordan
Laura Sheahen, senior communications officer, CARE International, shares her findings from several years on the ground.

For years and years, Jordanians and Syrians have mixed and they have relatives in common, so it is not an extremely stark contrast [socially] but there are still differences in customs and traditions. One thing I heard yesterday near the Syrian border was that because Syrian refugee men are willing to work for less money - and often they are being exploited when they do so - Jordanian men are not being able to earn enough to provide a dowry - basically a nice home or an apartment for a Jordanian woman they would like to marry. And so they have had to delay marriage.

Another impact on marriage is that Syrian women are sometimes seen as being willing to accept a smaller dowry in order to marry a Jordanian man who maybe cannot provide quite as much in terms of a place to live. So there is this little bit of resentment that maybe Syrian women are getting the men. These are generalizations and stereotypes that highlight some of the social dimensions of what is happening.

There are tensions in some areas of Jordan, although it certainly does not apply to all areas, for example [the capital] Amman. But when we were up north in a smaller village, one of the older Jordanian men said: "Syrian men come here and Syrian men wear shorts. We don't do that here." And he said: "Syrian women ride on a motorcycle behind their husbands. That's not done here."

Overall, the longer the refugee families stay, the harder it has been on the host community.
 
Integration
Dawn Chatty, Professor of Anthropology and Forced Migration at the University of Oxford, spoke to the BBC about the impact of the camps on the surrounding communities.
Whenever you have camps that receive a lot of assistance you create a negative environment in the local community - which is happening in some of the camps in Jordan. The Lebanese are desperately trying to make sure that does not happen. They have had a very bad experience with camps in which you take a minority community, and isolate and separate them out. We know from years and years of working with refugees that local hosting, local accommodation, is far superior to encamping people, where you really strip them of their agency but also strip them of their dignity.
 
Some of Rotary's efforts to help the Syrian crisis
On the International level, Rotary has put tremendous resources into quelling the spread of Polio in Syria. Local Rotary clubs are also pitching in to help make a difference.
 
One of the Rotary Disaster Box Schemes, ShelterBox, is working with agencies in Iraq, Lebanon and Turkey and has supplied over 1,600 boxes plus other support equipment whilst Aquabox is working with agencies in Lebanon and have supplied 500 boxes containing humanitarian aid and water filtration kits.
 
The Rotary Club of London (my "buddy" club), has used its contacts with the Rotary Club of New York, and the Rotary Club of Ankara Bahçelievler, have raised funds, bought essential items in Turkey using the local Rotarians’ bargaining power and local knowledge, and delivered the items to the camps under the guidance of the Red Crescent.
 
Do you know of other things Rotary is doing to help the refugee crisis? Share in the comments when you register your attendance!
 
Sources for this article
 
 
 
 
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