It is estimated that 500,000 Iraqi civilians, 200,000 Syrian civilians, and 50,000 Afghan civilians have died from war-related causes. To escape the ravages of war, millions of families have left their homes and sought refuge elsewhere.
UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, reports that as of mid 2014 there were 46.3 million people under the agency’s care. 13 million were classified as Refugees, meaning those who had fled to another country for safety. In addition, more than 30 million were classified as Internally Displaced Persons, people driven from their homes by war but remaining within their own national borders. Because of the emergence of ISIS, the fighting in Syria and Iraq has intensified since the last UN report, creating millions more refugees and internally displaced persons.
When families have to leave their homes to escape the violence of war, they often go with nothing more than the clothes they are wearing. Material possessions are left behind, income from work or business is lost, all means of support disappear. They are cut off from everything they knew, and set adrift. Most end up in camps set up by the UN or a host country.
In the UN camps, people are housed in tents that can be bitter cold in winter and exceedingly hot in summer. Clothes, food, blankets, the basic essentials for survival, are provided by the UN, the host country, and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs). UN funds run out from time to time, depending on the ability or willingness of member nations to meet their commitments. NGOs depend on contributions, and their funds can be stretched thin. Host countries often find the camps a strain on their economies and their budgets. When funds run low or run out, refugees are often forced to go on half rations or no rations.
Pakistan is the number 1 host country, housing 2.6 million refugees, mainly Afghans. Turkey is next with 2 million Syrians in 23 refugee camps, or scattered in villages throughout the country. Turkey also hosts hundreds of thousands of refugees from Iraq and Afghanistan. Lebanon is the number 3 Middle East host country with 1.2 million refugees. Jordan is next, harboring 1 million. Africa and Asia also have millions of war refugees housed in camps. Statistical breakdowns on the internally displaced are not readily available, but there are many camps with the same problems as the refugee camps.
As long as there is war, there will be refugees. Since mankind has not yet found a way to avoid war, this will be an ongoing manmade disaster till far into the future. We hope the UN member nations and the rest of us can find a way to ease the burden and give all refugees and displaced persons a new shot at a healthy and secure life.