SYRIA

Syrian refugees find closed doors as conflict drags on

Ammar Abd Rabbo | Two schoolgirls return home after class in the war-ravaged city of Aleppo in Syria, June 2013

When Abou Hassan fled with his seven children from Hama in western Syria, he never thought that a squalid camp outside Idlib, near the border with Turkey, would become his new home.

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But Hassan has been living there for eight months now, along with some 300 other families squeezed into 90 tents, in desperate conditions.

After four years of fighting, the Syrian conflict has triggered the world's largest humanitarian crisis since World War II.

“There are no medical facilities, no toilets, no drainage system. Each family gets 15 litres of water - that's not even enough to drink. How can we wash ourselves or wash our clothes?” says Hassan, as he walks around the flimsy tents.

Hassan is one of nearly eight million internally displaced Syrians who have fled their homes in search of safety. Almost four million more have already crossed the country’s borders to Turkey, Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon, which are experiencing social, political and economic upheaval as a result.

Lebanon now has the highest percentage of refugees per population in the world.

“It's the responsibility of the international community to recognize that we need political solutions,” says Claus Sørensen, director general of the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civil protection department.

“Pending those political solutions, we need to come in with sufficient help and assistance to keep them afloat, and cater for the needs, not only of the refugees, but also of the host communities,” he says.

Faced with their own growing security concerns and insufficient international support, many host countries are choosing to stem the influx of refugees, leaving those seeking shelter with few options.

Inside Syria itself, the situation grows bleaker as the war drags on.

Two million children are living in areas largely cut off from humanitarian aid. A quarter of the country's schools and more than half of Syria's hospitals have been destroyed.

With no political solution in sight there's little prospect of the country's refugees returning home.
 

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