Five years on the Syrian conflict

Added on by Annie Ling.

In 2014, displaced Syrians in neighboring southern Turkey welcomed me into their temporary homes. I met widowed women who shared not just their fear of the future for their families but also shared what little they have left to help other Syrians in need. Determined peers worn down by war considered the treacherous journey across the Mediterranean Sea to Europe in search of stability and acceptance. In midst of trauma and rage over the senseless cost of the conflict, there was a serious display of illegitimi non carborundum style resilience and solidarity. 

Not long after, a partnership with ACTED, a french humanitarian NGO delivering emergency relief and logistical support internationally, led me to work in Syrian refugee camps and IDP (internally displaced people) camps in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. Witnessing thousands in limbo living off limited rations for years throw a feast together at a moment's notice when a new influx of long-traveled, tired and hungry Kobani refugees arrive at Kawergosk Camp was incredibly moving—something I'll never forget. 

When I returned home to New York and unpacked my gear, I struggled with the meaning of the limited time I was able to spend there. Recurring headlines and news footage from the conflict confirms what we already know—that this is one of the most desperate humanitarian crisis of our time. What spending time with Syrian friends confirmed for me however, is that relationships bridge divide and understanding. "A tragedy of this scale demands solidarity beyond funding. Put simply, we need more countries to share the load by taking a greater share of refugees from what has become the biggest displacement crisis of a generation," to quote Filippo Grandi, UNHCR High Commissioner for Refugees.

As this conflict continues past its five year mark, I hope we will work harder to welcome and forge relationships with those on the outside. To isolate individuals is to isolate the tragedy and ultimately overlook our shared humanity.

Below are a few unpublished images from Syrian refugee camps in Iraq made in the fall of 2014: