December 4, 2015
WASHINGTON (CNS) — The trickle of refugees that left Syria when that country’s Arab Spring-styled protests morphed in late 2011 into civil war, turned to a flood and then a torrent this year as hostilities escalated when euphemistically termed “outside actors” got more deeply involved.
With the government of President Bashar Assad controlling perhaps one-quarter of Syria but two-thirds of the population, and Kurdish separatists controlling two northern slivers of the country, most of Syria’s eastern half is controlled by Islamic State, with collections of so-called “moderate” rebels — i.e., anyone not named Islamic State that wants Assad gone — hunkered down in the rest. There is little incentive for Syrians to stay in their homeland.
Close to 11 million Syrians, or nearly half the country’s population, have been displaced, according to Qatari news outlet Al Jazeera. Of that number, 3.8 million are refugees. Neighboring Turkey has 1.7 million, and Lebanon is nearing the million mark itself. Another neighbor, Jordan, also has accepted hundreds of thousands of refugees. Melkite Patriarch Gregorios III Laham estimated in 2013 that 450,000 Syrian Christians had already been displaced.