By Fairuz Taqi-Eddin, CARE's Regional Director of Partnerships in the Middle East, based in Jordan.
The Syrian crisis is different from all other humanitarian crises that I have known. In my 11 years as a fundraiser with CARE, I have been involved in humanitarian emergency responses of large magnitude, including the Tsunami, the Pakistan floods, the Haiti earthquake, and the Horn of Africa food crisis.
I have seen people suffering and their lives shattered but as a Syrian-American woman, this crisis is personal to me; it has made me much more aware of my Syrian roots. Both my paternal grandparents were born in Damascus and the majority of our extended family is still living in Syria. This crisis is affecting family members both in Syria and in Jordan directly. My relatives who are still back in Syria and those who have escaped the conflict and fled to Jordan have made this crisis real by bringing to my life the extent of pain and upheaval that they have been feeling. Several of my relatives lost their lives. Homes and businesses of relatives were destroyed. These are some examples of how one family −- my family -- is being affected.
In Jordan, through my work with CARE, I have visited the Zaatari refugee camp and met with countless Syrian refugee families living in Amman. I have seen the impact this crisis has been having on the Syrian women, men, mothers and children. As a mother, I can easily relate to a refugee mom who constantly worries how she will keep a roof over her family's head, how /when her children would go to school or how many meals she could secure for her kids. The list goes on.
There are good people and organizations on the ground like CARE doing their best to respond to this crisis. But it has just not been enough, and there is so much more that needs to be done, especially with no end in sight to this tragedy.
On the 7th of June the UN launched a $4.4 billion humanitarian appeal -- the largest aid request in the organization's history -- in order to be able to assist the growing number of people suffering the effects of the crisis in Syria. The UN estimates that 6.8 million people need urgent help inside of Syria whilst more than 1.6 million Syrians -- the latter is twice the population of San Francisco where I used to live and work -- need urgent help in the neighbouring countries where they have been taking refuge and continue arriving. I feel the responsibility and the commitment to do my part and fundraise for this crisis of unprecedented scale.
Unlike with other crises, the political aspect of this emergency has overshadowed the humanitarian aspect, and raising funds and having the focus on the continuous and increasing humanitarian needs of both people within Syria and Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries have been challenging. Also, due to the multitude of forces with different allegiances in Syria, raising funds is complex. In my role, I am constantly working on finding ways to help people affected by this huge crisis and assure donors that their funding reaches those who have been most affected, and is allocated to respond to the humanitarian needs created by the conflict.
The 20th June, this week, marks World Refugee Day, a day established by the UN to recognize and honor the strength and determination of women, men and children who are forced to flee their homes to escape persecution, conflict, natural disasters and violence. An increasing number of the world's refugees today are from Syria, with the number of Syrian refugees continuing sadly to grow fast and steadily.
On this important day, I urge that we don't forget the plight of the Syrian people who have already suffered so much, and help those most in need: over 1.6 million Syrian refugees as well as nearly seven million Syrians who are not refugees but are in urgent need of help inside Syria. This crisis is a clear case where aid will bring solace to uprooted refugee families forced to live in increasingly difficult conditions, and will alleviate the suffering of countless families.
CARE is working to help refugees meet their most urgent needs and protect their dignity. While our efforts to help Syrian refugees and host communities began in Jordan -- where we have reached more than 110,000 refugees -- we are also on the ground in Egypt and Lebanon, working with a range of partners to help refugees and host communities. To find out more or to donate, please visit: http://care-international.org
Bio: In her role, Fairuz manages and develops partnerships and donor relations for CARE in the Middle East region. Fairuz joined CARE in 2002. Prior to her move to the Middle East in spring 2008, Fairuz was a major gift fundraiser for CARE in San Francisco and Silicon Valley and worked with key corporations and Foundation such as CISCO, GOOGLE, GAP Foundation and Visa. She has ten years of experience in fundraising, media and communication work. Fairuz is passionate and committed towards women empowerment work and promoting cultural understanding. A volunteer for several philanthropic organizations, Fairuz was instrumental in the setting up of Spark, a San Francisco based organization that engages young professionals around women issues around the globe.