The New York Times reports: The causes of the current crisis are plain. Neighboring countries like Lebanon and Jordan became overwhelmed with refugees and closed their borders to many, while international humanitarian funding fell further and further short of the need. Then, Syrian government losses and other battlefield shifts sent new waves of people fleeing the country.
Some of these people had thought they would stick it out in Syria, and they are different from earlier refugees, who tended to be poor and vulnerable, or wanted by the government, or from areas hard-hit early in the civil war. Now those departing include more middle-class or wealthy people, more supporters of the government, and more residents of areas that were initially safe.
Rawad, 25, a pro-government university graduate, left for Germany with his brother Iyad, 13, who as a minor could help his family obtain asylum. They walked from Greece to save money, Rawad said via text message, sleeping in forests and train stations alongside families from northern Syria who opposed President Bashar al-Assad.
People like Rawad and Iyad have been joined by growing numbers of refugees who had for a time found shelter in neighboring countries. Lebanon, where one in three people is now a Syrian refugee, and Jordan have cracked down on entry and residency policies for Syrians. Even in Turkey, a larger country more willing and able to absorb them, new domestic political tensions make their fate uncertain.
As the numbers of displaced Syrians mounted to 11 million today from a trickle in 2011, efforts to reach a political solution gained little traction. The United States and Russia bickered in the Security Council while Syrian government warplanes continued indiscriminate barrel bombing, the Islamic State took over new areas, other insurgent groups battled government forces and one another, and Syria’s economy collapsed. [Continue reading…]