THE BLOG

Syria Two Years On: The Refugee Situation Is Spiralling Out of Control

15/03/2013 16:47 GMT | Updated 14/05/2013 10:12 BST

It's been two years since the start of the Syrian uprising and in that time more than 70,000 people are thought to have died, two million are displaced within Syria and now more than a million have fled to neighbouring countries. As I write this I am in Jordan and it is clear to me that the situation is spiralling out of control at a staggering speed. In December, 3,000 people were leaving Syria each day but, just three months later, this number has risen to 8,000 people every day.

Thousands of people - frightened, exhausted but still proud - arrive daily in Jordan, putting pressure on the scant resources available in Zaatari refugee camp and local communities.

This week I went to Zaatari, which was set up in the desert just eight months ago close to the Syrian border, to provide shelter for the growing influx of refugees. Now home to over 100,000 people, it's a challenging environment for people to live in - dry and dusty in the day and cold at night. As we move into summer, temperatures will reach up to 40° and people are crowded into tents or prefabricated huts.

In Zaatari I met Homdiyah, a 70 year old woman who has been living here for four months. In her care she has her five grandchildren who have lost their parents. Homdiyah told me they have nothing. They arrived with only the clothes they were wearing, and her son carried her 3km to the border as she was unable to walk.

Our work here is based on listening and responding to what people tell us they need - which helps give people back some dignity and power in their lives. In Zaatari we are providing urgently needed, basic items such as a change of clothes and soap - small items, but essential to people's well-being. Women told us before receiving their kit, that they had to wash their clothes every night, sometimes having to put on wet clothes because they had no alternative.

We also plan to work in Zarqa city, where there is no refugee camp, and people are living amongst local communities. Prices are comparatively high for the refugees and people are struggling to support themselves, usually crowded into poor quality accommodation with multiple families sharing the same small flat. Many are unable to find work. Ibtissan told me that her 56 year old husband has been looking for work for over two months, and the only job her son has found pays him five Jordanian dollars per day (£4.75). Seventeen of them live in a small three bedroom flat with no furniture.

Despite trying to be resilient, there is an overwhelming sense of abandonment and loss of hope amongst refugees in Jordan. Everyone I spoke to has been deeply affected by the crisis in some way. Family members have been killed, their homes have been destroyed, they are separated from loved ones with no idea of when or if they will see them again. Many broke down in tears as they told me their story and yet they are all yearning to go home. There is an urgent need for psychosocial support to help people come to terms with their loss and new found status. Even once the war is over there will be a risk of mental scars for years to come unless help is given now.

ActionAid is appealing urgently for more funds but with millions of people in dire need of help more needs to be done by the international community. The UN requires $1billion to meet the needs of the refugees and, although most of that money has been pledged, it's vital that promises become real and money is used effectively and in a transparent manner.

In addition to life saving humanitarian aid the international community must urgently step up, express solidarity and strengthen efforts to bring about an end to the conflict, ensuring that Syrians can live in peace and security within a democracy.