Credit By: The Cariro Review Global
In 2012, a mere year after the onset of Syria’s conflict, Youssef Bayrakdar was just 19 when he and his family were compelled to flee their residence in Homs. The horrors of war had already visited their doorstep, claiming the lives of his sister, her spouse, their children, and every inhabitant of their building at the hands of militiamen.
After five days of agony, grieving families were finally permitted to lay their loved ones to rest. “The militias continued killing and eliminated nearly 25 neighborhoods and massacred 100 families,” Bayrakdar recounted to Arab News.
Seeking sanctuary, Bayrakdar and his surviving family sought refuge in the countryside, where they persevered until 2015. Unfortunately, even in their new haven, the scars of conflict persisted as rockets struck perilously close to their makeshift home. As his parents chose to return to the city, Bayrakdar, and his two siblings embraced political activism.
A Life on Hold: The Displacement Dilemma
Presently residing in the northern part of Aleppo, an area beyond government control, Bayrakdar and his siblings face the harsh reality of being unable to reunite with their parents. “I strongly believe that we will never see them again,” he laments, echoing the sentiments of millions uprooted due to conflict, persecution, natural calamities, or economic adversity.
The UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, reports that since the inception of the Syrian crisis in 2011, a staggering 13 million people from Syria have been compelled to abandon their homes, seeking refuge within different parts of their nation, neighboring countries, or overseas. Of these, 5.6 million have sought asylum abroad, while 6.9 million remain internally displaced. Regrettably, the precise number of returning Syrian refugees remains challenging for aid agencies to quantify.
Beyond Syria: A Global Quandary
While Syria remains a prominent source of displacement, Ukraine, Afghanistan, Venezuela, South Sudan, and Myanmar closely trail behind. Matthew Saltmarsh, head of news and media at UNHCR, points out that 52 percent of refugees and those needing international protection emerge from just three countries: Syria, Ukraine, and Afghanistan. Still, he emphasizes that numerous other nations are generating substantial refugees, including Sudan, South Sudan, Venezuela, and Myanmar.
The Unfolding Crisis: Sudan and Beyond
The violent eruption in Sudan from April 15 onward has driven approximately 4.3 million individuals from their homes, causing over 3.2 million to become internally displaced, 900,000 to seek refuge in neighboring nations, and forcing 195,000 South Sudanese citizens to return to their homeland, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross.
This ongoing humanitarian catastrophe threatens to destabilize the region and exacerbates the already precarious situations of neighboring countries, which have long endured strife, economic instability, and environmental challenges.
UN figures highlight the stark reality: nearly 110 million individuals across the globe are classified as displaced, doubling the count from a mere decade ago.
Escalating Conflicts and Climate-Driven Chaos
The surge in ongoing conflicts, such as the Ukraine war and climate-induced disruptions, has resulted in many individuals being uprooted from their residences. This distressing exodus often compels them to navigate treacherous routes for safety.
Saltmarsh astutely remarks, “Sometimes it seems that humans have become better at fighting than making peace.” He adds that immediate collective action is indispensable to address displacement’s underlying causes and ramifications, or this disheartening trend will persist.
The Humanitarian Call: Governments Must Act
While there are instances of countries and communities striving to facilitate solutions for refugees to rebuild their lives or return voluntarily, humanitarian aid agencies contend that governments are not doing enough to promote diplomacy and peace. Instead, conflicts and mass displacements continue unabated.
Karl Schembri, a media advisor for the Norwegian Refugee Council, asserts that the international community possesses tools to prevent and halt wars. However, the prevalence of conflicts reflects the political will to intervene. He emphasizes that wealthier nations, often entangled in conflicts, must provide funding to aid the displaced.
Humanitarian Efforts Amidst Funding Challenges
Humanitarian organizations, like the NRC, work to provide essential aid where security permits, spanning from legal assistance and shelter to education, food, and water. Agencies also endeavor to reunite displaced families torn apart by circumstances. However, the rising demand for aid and dwindling funding pose a significant challenge.
Creating Safe Pathways and Promoting Solidarity
Saltmarsh emphasizes the significance of governments prioritizing safety and solidarity in their policies. Collaborative efforts and coordinated action are pivotal in saving lives. Safe pathways and efforts to discourage perilous journeys can foster the safety of those fleeing conflict and persecution.
A Global Call to Action: The Way Forward
Bayrakdar, who knows the strife of displacement well, stresses the need for comprehensive international intervention to resolve the 12-year-long civil war in Syria. Only such concerted efforts can reunite families and bring healing to beleaguered communities.
He reminds the international community that the focus should shift from merely assisting the displaced to addressing the root causes of displacement itself. Without such action, the pain endured by those like Bayrakdar will persist, a testament to the urgent need for peace and concerted global effort.