The images of young Syrian refugees Aylan and Galip Kurdi being lifted out of the Turkish waters has captured global attention, humanizing in one powerful image the desperation caused by conflict and the shattered dream of building a new life.
The plight of Abdullah, to journey with his young family to Canada has been replaced with the enormity of grief as he mourns the loss of his two sons and wife.
Today let us not forget that their motivation to embark on this dangerous journey was to find work and to support their family, a universal desire that every mother and father can understand.
What is difficult for most to comprehend is the scale of this crisis and its impact on the region. Four years of war and conflict have internally displaced an estimated seven million Syrians and caused another four million refugees to flee. Their search for a place to resettle requires a global response with interventions and programs that provide an opportunity to stabilize and rebuild.
The solution will not be singularly focused – successful global engagements since World War II remind us that military efforts to end conflict must be complimented by a combination of investments essential to rebuilding a stable society. As we see global institutions and leaders confront the humanitarian and legal crisis, individuals can contribute to alleviating the suffering by lifting their voices and supporting local partners on the ground.
Earlier this year we partnered with a local women’s organization in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. Together, we were able to reach hundreds of Syrian women refugees, especially widows, with psychosocial support services and business skills training.
In a short-period of time, we found that the support they received was unique and transformative. For women who had given up hope, reeling from loss and trauma, finding a safe space to heal helped them begin to look forward.
As we call on global leaders to work together to ensure that migrants and refugees are afforded the legal protections enshrined in the Geneva Conventions, we call on individuals to also recognize their power to do something. From sharing stories that remind us of our common humanity and the plight of parents trying to build a new life to investing in local organizations working directly to help refugees rebuild, we can all support those who have been displaced by war and violence as they move forward.
To learn how you can support local efforts assisting Syrian refugees please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.