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A Bleak Winter: Providing Needed Aid to Those Fleeing Conflict in Syria
January 14, 2013

Migration Policy Institute

A Bleak Winter: Providing Needed Aid to Those Fleeing Conflict in Syria

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A Bleak Winter: Providing Needed Aid to Those Fleeing Conflict in Syria


Mort Abramowitz, Senior Fellow, The Century Foundation; Former U.S. Ambassador to Turkey; and Overseer, International Rescue Committee

George Rupp, President and Chief Executive Officer, International Rescue Committee

Fadi Al Khankan, Chair of the Humanitarian Aid Committee, Syrian Expatriates Organization


Kathleen Newland, Director, Migrants, Migration, and Development, and Refugee Policy Programs, Migration Policy Institute; and Overseer, International Rescue Committee

The humanitarian crisis in and around Syria is intensifying as more people are forced to flee their homes in the face of continuing violence.  More than half a million Syrians have left the country, at least two million are internally displaced, and many more have seen their normal lives and livelihoods destroyed.  As winter sets in, stocks of food and fuel are dwindling. The strain on neighboring countries is testing their ability to keep borders open to Syrian refugees and international assistance is not keeping up with the growing needs. No one seems to expect an early end to the displacement, even if the Assad regime falls in the near future.

A delegation of the International Rescue Committee (IRC) visited Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon, and Iraq in November 2012 to discuss the humanitarian crisis with refugees, officials from host and donor governments, representatives of international humanitarian organizations and local nongovernmental agencies; and to get a firsthand look at the work of IRC partners and staff who are directly involved in providing assistance to the refugees and to Syrians trapped inside the country. 

MPI and IRC hosted this discussion of the delegation’s report, augmented by the perspective of Dr. Al Khankan, representing the Syrian Expatriates Organization, an organization of Syrian professionals who are raising funds, sending critically needed supplies, and providing direct humanitarian assistance within Syria. The discussion was moderated by MPI’s Kathleen Newland, who is an IRC overseer and was a member of the delegation that produced the report.

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International Rescue Committee