Syrian Conflict: 5 Years of Chaos (& Hope)

Image Source: Freedom House Today marks five years of armed conflict in Syria. What began as the protests of yet another Arab country against a dictatorial government has escalated into the largest humanitarian crisis of our time. More than 250,000 individuals have been killed in the last five years. 4.8 million Syrians have escaped their homeland and 6.5 million are internally displaced because of the violence.

War crimes of all stripes have been committed by all parties involved since 2011 and peace talks have failed again and again. The developing countries of Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey will soon buckle under the weight of millions seeking refuge within their borders. Meanwhile, Europe is attempting to push desperate asylum seekers back into their laps.

It's tempting to give in to feelings of despair and depression when all these facts indicate a lack of progress and even a continued escalation of chaos and misery in Syria. If all of this talk results in no improvement, perhaps we should just carry on with our lives as though Syria doesn't exist.

But Syrians themselves won't let us. Simple conversations with refugees and larger surveys of asylum seekers in Europe indicate that the vast majority of them just want to go back home. Syrian refugees don't accept that they will be refugees forever. They have faith that one day they will get to return home to rebuild their lives. If we stop believing along with them that this is possible, we do them the greatest disservice of all.

Yes, Syria needs the financial and humanitarian aid of the international community. They need food, water, medicine, and roofs over their heads and they need the UN's help to discuss viable paths to peace. But more than all of that, they need our hope and our faith that this conflict can and will end. So, today, on this unfortunate anniversary, instead of heaving a sigh and wishing articles about Syria, ISIS, and refugees would stop showing up in your newsfeed, actually believe that peace is possible. Hope along with 23 million Syrians that this conflict has not been wholly pointless and renew your faith in a stronger, freer Syria of the future.

Further Information:

Huffington Post on 5th anniversary of the Syrian civil war.

BBC News - The Story of the Syrian Conflict

LA Times - A Timeline of the Syrian Conflict