The Syrian conflict, now the largest humanitarian crisis since World War II, entered its fifth year last weekend.
As it continues to escalate, the need for the international community to redouble its efforts to bring about a political solution could not be greater, according to Christian Aid, a relief and development agency of British and Irish churches.
More than 200,000 people have been killed inside Syria, and half of the population has been forced to leave their homes.
More than 7.5 million people are internally displaced and a further 4 million have fled to neighboring countries.
It is estimated that more than 12 million people inside Syria, and millions more refugees across Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Jordan are now in need of humanitarian assistance as a result of the conflict.
The United Nations has described it as “the worst humanitarian crisis of our time.”
“Whilst the U.K. headlines are dominated by the terror of the so-called Islamic State, there is a danger we forget the millions of Syrians, Iraqis and Palestinians, who have been forced to flee their homes,” said Frances Guy, head of Middle East at Christian Aid.
“Families are living in cramped and overcrowded conditions in countries struggling to cope with the overwhelming number of refugees,” Guy said. “Inside Syria itself, millions of people have been displaced from their homes, trying to seek sanctuary in safer parts of the country.
“And then there are those who can’t escape, trapped in besieged areas of Syria, men, women and children who are often used as pawns by one side or another in the fighting.”
Baptists in the region are among those responding to the humanitarian crisis, circumstances which were explored in an article for Baptists Together magazine in 2014.
“The war in Syria and the Syrian refugee crisis have been on the forefront of the news worldwide for a while now,” wrote Nabil Costa, executive director of the Lebanese Baptist Society (LSESD) and a BMS World Mission trustee. “However, it is never more real than for the Lebanese people who are dealing with the difficult realities of it each and every day.”
Since 2011, LSESD has been directly involved in reaching out to vulnerable Syrian families, including providing monthly food aid and medical assistance.
“In the midst of all this, God is very much at work,” Costa said. “There are amazing stories of incredible answers to prayers, of visions and of healing. God is transforming the church, and the communities through the church.”
Alongside this, BMS World Mission continues to respond to the humanitarian tragedy by providing food aid to displaced families and supporting Syrian refugees who have fled to Lebanon and Jordan.
The #withSyria coalition has launched a global petition calling on world leaders to do more to end the suffering of the Syrian people.
Paul Hobson is the editor of The Baptist Times of Great Britain – the online newspaper of the Baptist Union of Great Britain. A version of this news article first appeared in The Baptist Times and is used with permission. You can follow him on Twitter @PaulHobson10, The Baptist Times @BaptistTimes and the Baptist Union @BaptistUnionGB.