The humanitarian mission of the Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees (MFA) is to get the right relief, to the right people – at the right time. Our mandate requires continual awareness of the current needs – and also a hyper-sensitivity to the ever-changing landscape and the inevitable human impact.
In 2019, the Syrian people continued to be victims of the interplay of international actors – all seeking control of territory, oil fields and military and geopolitical advantage over this beleaguered country. The unfolding events made MFA’s mission more complex – and that much more necessary.
In Idlib, in northwest Syria, millions have been displaced by Russian air raids. The use of chlorine gas and barrel bombs continued. The UN opened an investigation of Russia’s deliberate targeting of hospitals, and fleeing civilians were often left without shelter of any kind.
In Turkey, 13% unemployment led to a backlash against Syrian refugees. The country had admitted 3.6 million refugees, and offered the opportunity to work and education in Turkish schools. Now, Syrian businesses have been attacked, refugee relocation inside Turkey restricted and, to date, 350,000 Syrians “voluntarily” returned home.
In October, given a green light by the US, Turkey launched a military offensive into northeast Syria. By establishing a 20-mile “safe zone” inside the Syrian border, Turkish President Erdogan sought to eliminate the threat of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The fighting and the initial displacement of 300,000 people created tremendous new needs – and Turkey has recently announced its intent to resettle a million repatriated Syrian refugees into the area.
The US and the EU have largely abandoned any role in the outcome of the war. Having withdrawn from its outposts in the north, the US is left primarily with the eastern oil fields. Erdogan and Vladimir Putin now have joint Russian-Turkish patrols along the border.
As fighting continues, the options for those remaining are grim. Most lack the resources to reach Kurdish northern Iraq. International NGOs have fled.The displaced can only try to head away from the fighting, seeking clean water and abandoned buildings to stave off the harsh winter.
The people of northwest and northeast Syria and northern Iraq – major recipients of MFA’s shipments – have been profoundly impacted by the upheaval of the past year. Fighting uprooted major segments of the population and intensified the need for aid – and shifting control has complicated deliveries. Against this background, MFA has now shipped more than $137 million of humanitarian relief, and the challenges of the Syrian people continue to be our mission.
We thank you for your support – and your dedication to the resilience of the people of Syria.
Dr. Georgette Bennett, Founder
Bennett Gross, Executive Director
Please read our 2019 Annual Report to see what MFA has accomplished over the past year. Support from people like you is critical to our providing help to Syrians in need.