30%. Gone.

Al-Hamidiyah Souq, Damascus, Syria by Bernard GagnonAs of May, more than 5.5 million people had fled their homes as a result of the conflict in Syria.

That’s nearly 30% of the country, or 1.5 million refugees outside of Syria and 4 million people displaced within the border.

When I first read those numbers, I found myself imagining 1/3 of my building empty, or 1/3 of my family homeless. The numbers seemed too difficult to comprehend.

Like many Westerners, I’m confused about how to relate to the situation in Syria. With 80,000 dead, should we beat the war drums (not really my favorite instrument)? Demand total non-intervention? Send aid? Ignore it completely?

I don’t know the answers to these questions and, at this point, I doubt even the best experts can offer solutions with full confidence. I certainly wouldn’t advocate for anything that might escalate the violence.

There is one thing I can do, though: I can try to help the refugees and care for the displaced women and children who are particularly vulnerable.

A while back I put together this incomplete list of ways to help Syria’s growing refugee population. I wish there was more we could do, or at least more obvious solutions; but this might serve as a start for anyone whose heart breaks for Damascus and beyond.

(Photo: Al-Hamidiyah Souq, Damascus, Syria by Bernard Gagnon)

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