This post previously appeared in Politico.
Syria’s civil war has become one of the largest humanitarian disasters in recent memory. The number of displaced Syrians is climbing rapidly, and the United Nations now estimates that half of Syria’s 20 million people could need aid by the end of this year. The Obama Administration and Congress have responded generously to the needs of Syrians during the last two years of conflict, but clearly more must be done.
Starting today, my colleague Marc Hanson and I will be in the Middle East to continue our field research on the situation of Syrian refugees.
RI first looked at this crisis a year ago in Lebanon, when the number of refugees there was relatively small and assistance was distributed largely through local authorities and host families. No one expected the crisis to take on the proportions that it has since, nor last so long.
This post originally appeared in The National.
In the last few weeks alone, the country has seen summary executions, the bombing of a major university, and population displacement on a massive and growing scale.
By any standard, one billion is a daunting number. How many grains of sand is one billion? How long would it take to eat one billion M&Ms? For policymakers and others who deal with national budgets on a daily basis, the concept of ‘one billion’ may not be so hard to grasp. But for most of us it borders on the incomprehensible.
This post originally appeared on The Hill's Congress Blog.
When you think of getting ready for winter in D.C., it seems straightforward enough: you pull out a heavier coat, a hat and gloves; throw a comforter on the bed; and set the climate control to 68 degrees. Quick and simple, right? But for the hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees who are receiving humanitarian assistance, winter is a much more ominous prospect.
This post originally appeared at UN Dispatch.
Hannan, four years old, squirms on her pink hospital bed, covering her face with her hands as if I cannot see her that way. When she thinks I’m not looking, she peeks up at me between her fingers and I give her a quick smile. She smiles back, and then immediately rolls over, hiding from me and my colleague.
A former colleague of mine would often describe as “dynamic” any situation that had a lot of activity in it, be it constructive or not. A meeting in which people yelled at each other and stormed out of the room could be “dynamic.” So could a demonstration where passers-by on the street stopped to shout support for the protesters. And so could a football game among seven-year olds where the kids invariably ended up screaming at each other about unfairness but then cheerfully continued play.
As the 67th General Assembly opens this week, and as the United Nations gears up for the countless high-level meetings and side events that follow, the enormity of the challenges facing the UN is striking.