AJN On the Cover
On our cover this month are the refugees war always hits hardest: the children. These Syrian children, forced to flee the violence in their country, are shown arriving in Qaa village in northern Lebanon. They are among the more than 340,000 Syrians registered or awaiting registration as refugees in the neighboring countries of Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, and Iraq.
Since the beginning of the crisis, which has its origins in the uprising against the oppressive regime of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad in March 2011, between 28,000 and 34,000 people have been killed, about half of them civilians. There have been reports of widespread torture in Syrian prisons, as well as severe human rights violations by both Syrian government forces and antigovernment rebel forces.
Humanitarian agencies in the area are now facing a race against the onset of winter. In Jordan, for example, where thousands are living in tents, the average low temperature between November and March is 35.6°F (2°C). The office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said it is beginning a winterization program in Lebanon to provide people with fuel for heating, mattresses, blankets, and warm clothes. Similar programs are also in effect in Jordan, Turkey, and Iraq.
The number of people fleeing Syria to neighboring countries has tripled over the last three months, underscoring the urgency of the Syria Regional Response Plan, led by the UNHCR and other humanitarian agencies, which seeks $487.9 million to support the estimate of up to 710,000 Syrian refugees in these areas by the end of the year.
Roughly 2,100 miles southeast of Syria, one of the world's longest and worst refugee crises continues in Somalia. In Scenes from Somalia, a special photo essay in this issue, editor-in-chief Shawn Kennedy provides an update on the crisis.—Michael Fergenson, senior editorial coordinator