Monday, 31 December 2012

A difficult Christmas and New Years for Syrian Refugees

Many of us have celebrated Christmas this year in the comfort of our homes, with the warmth of our close family members and for others in snowing regions, under a roof in a house oozing with the warmth of a burning fire. We have spent, drank, eaten good food, received and given gifts, laughed and have enjoyed the warmth that comes with spending Christmas and New Years with family and friends. Sad to say this isnt the case for everyone. I came across a story of a difficult Christmas for Syrian Refugees.

Spent under cold snowy weather, in thin muddy tents, with hardly access to a hot bowl of soup, that is not the worst part of being a Syrian refugee. Being away from close family and friends is part of it and not knowing whether they are safe, alive or dead only makes it all worse.

One story that captured my attention is from Global Voices Online, of Ayesha, a 29-year-old woman living in the Atma refugee camp in Idlib Province, in northwest Syria. She is one of an estimated 50 pregnant women in the camp of internally displaced Syrians; where there’s an acute need for baby milk.

Her children have only the thin clothes on their backs and the daily food ration provided by the camp’s communal kitchen. She’s terrified of the toll the mounting cold and wet winter will take on her fragile newborn baby. Imagine being heavily pregnant and also giving birth in a refugee camp?

Christmas celebrations in Syria were marred by violence and suppression across the country while a number of displaced Christians were forced to celebrate the Christmas in refugee camps set up in the neighboring country, Lebanon. The 21-month-old conflict has put future of religious minority at risk as extremists and al-Qaeda linked militants are gaining access in the violence-wracked country rapidly. World powers including the United States, France and Britain have failed to evolve a consensus on how to ease President Bashar al-Assad. outlines that out of security concerns, Mass was performed in the afternoon instead of the normal time of midnight. Hundreds of Christians prayed for security and peace in Syria; so that they could return to their homeland. Pope Benedict XVI also prayed for peace and harmony in Syria in his annual Christmas message. The Pope also urged for dialogue in the pursuit of a political solution to the conflict. The United Nations peace envoy Brahimi is also on an official visit to Syria where he has held detailed meetings with President Assad and other relevant staff in a bid to find ways to restore peace and stability in the volatile country. Let’s see what Brahimi’s visit brings up for ordinary citizens of Syria.

The Syrian situation doesn't only remind me to be grateful about what I have, even the little that I have, but it reminds us once again all that still needs to be done to make this world a better place.

There are many ways that you can help refugees, whether they are right in your own community or half a world away.  If there are refugee services in your area, contact them and see if there’s something you can do to help, even if it’s just extending a smile and a welcoming hand.

Also I am sure you have heard of the saying, sharing is caring. The more we share about the injustices in this world, the more we will be heard, the more awareness we will build around the issue and hopefully something will be done about the issues plaguing our fellow human beings.

Wishing all of you a Happy New 2013!


  1. First and foremost, I would like to acknowledge and commend your concise treatment of the subject matter. Whilst your charity suggestion will not eradicate the problems discussed, without doubt it's simple but practical step towards world peace.

    Lastly, I could not help imagining if the world would be a better place without religion or what extremist have made it to be.

  2. Definitely we can all make a difference in small ways, freedom of religion is something that is still unacceptable to most people, unfortunately, and that in itself poses a lot of problems for different races and cultures. Thanks BK!