The global refugee crisis became personal for millions around the world last week when they saw the horrific image of a toddler — Aylan Kurdi — washed lifeless onto the shore of the Mediterranean.
The Syrian conflict that he and his family fled has been raging for more than four years, and the numbers are astonishing: 7.6 million men, women and children displaced within Syria, literally running for their lives in an active war zone; 4 million more seeking refuge outside Syria; hundreds of thousands killed.
We are currently facing the greatest refugee crisis since World War II. Sometimes, though, it takes a single image — or a single encounter — to help us make sense of these horrifying numbers.
I had such an encounter 18 months ago as I sat on a damp concrete floor in an abandoned apartment building in Amman, Jordan, with a group of Syrian mothers. Many were snuggling infants or chasing toddlers.
The refugees had fled Syria’s violence, crossing into Jordan in the middle of the night, often with shells exploding behind them. While some hoped their husbands would eventually join them, many were already widowed.
Haunted by the deaths they’d witnessed in Syria, they refused to let their children out of their sight. So a dilapidated, unfurnished room was kitchen, bedroom, neighborhood gathering place and playground — all in one.
Fortunately, a local church provided these women and children with food, hygiene products, mattresses, clothing and emergency medical care; the women were exceedingly grateful.
Continue Reading at the Washington Post.