Tuesday last, I complained about how the Middle East refugee story was getting little coverage. Well that has certainly changed, but not necessarily for the better. There is lots of coverage, but it is as if the story starts at Istanbul, or perhaps the Turkey/Bulgarian border. In other words, it is not a story until it reaches Europe. And yet, for all the refugees flooding Europe, there are many more stuck and suffering in the Middle East proper. People displaced by the disputes, wars and ravages of war but without the resources to make it to the European frontier.
In this immigration obsessed time we are covering this as a migration story, completely ignoring the vast humanitarian crisis that exists just outside of the troubled zones, or even in them – people without homes and resources – people that need pretty much everything. That is why I like Medair. Their efforts are focused on those people stuck in places like Jordan and Lebanon, and when possible they are reaching out to those suffering in Iraq and Syria.
According to Medair figures, 1.1 milion people have fled Syria and another 1.8 million are displaced in Iraq. Those numbers are astronomical compared to the tens of thousands that are storming Europe. Medair estimates that over half of these displaced people are children.
So what can you do?
Well Medair has a number of excellent efforts. As they say, “Medair helps people who are suffering in remote and devastated communities around the world survive crisis, recover with dignity, and develop skills to build a better future.” They, or course, do all the usual stuff, assisting with health care and nutrition services; providing clean water and sanitation; and safe shelter, but they do much more.
In one exciting project in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon, they are using GIS software to map the entire valley and its various settlements where there are over 400,000 Syrian refugees. As one Medair rep told me they want to, “share the information through the United Nations with all the other NGOs. Medair alone can’t help everyone but we can help ensure that no one is forgotten.”
As I said last Tuesday, there are enormous political and policy decisions to be made in all of this, for the U.S. and for the European nations. But while those wheels grind there are people suffering, deeply. We need to reach out to them. If you, like me, believe that this crisis was created in large part by the feckless Middle East policies of our current administration then there is no better way to compensate for our national mistake than by coming to the aid of those suffering most under it. If you want to build a bridge to the Islamic world, here is the perfect opportunity.
Please, give generously to Medair. Perhaps you are interested in doing something more specific. Well, here you can send specific gifts to people in these troubled regions.
I am grateful to God this Sunday morning that we in America are blessed enough to be able to squabble about immigration and other policy while still rich enough to be generous to those in such deep need.