Month: March 2021

March 25, 2021

Fast Facts About The Syrian Refugee Crisis

Get the facts about the Syrian refugee crisis—and better understand one of the greatest humanitarian challenges of our time.

Fact 1

Syria’s uprising, which started in 2011 and turned into a civil war, has created one of the worst humanitarian crises of our time. Half of the country’s pre-conflict population—an estimated 12 million people—have been forced to flee their homes.

Source: UNHCR

Fact 2

A refugee is someone who has been forced to flee their country because of persecution, war, or violence. Refugees are entitled to protection under international law.

Source: UNHCR

Fact 3

About 6 in 10 Syrians are displaced from their homes, a number unprecedented in recent history for a single country.

Source: Pew Research Center

Fact 4

More than 6.1 million Syrians are displaced within Syria.

Source: Mercy Corps

Fact 5

Globally, there are more people fleeing conflict than at any time since World War II.

Source: The New York Times

Fact 6

Syrians continue to make up the world’s largest refugee population.

Source: UNHCR

Fact 7

About half of all people affected by the Syrian refugee crisis are children.

Source: World Vision

Fact 8

Turkey shelters the largest number of Syrian refugees, currently hosting 3.6 million. Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, and Egypt also host a significant number of Syrian refugees.

Source: UNHCR

Fact 9

The United States accepted 481 Syrian refugees into the country in the 2020 fiscal year. During the 2018 fiscal year, the U.S. resettled only 62 Syrian refugees.

Source: The Washington Post + The New York Times

Fact 10

Thousands of generous people have helped Syrian refugees through SEMA US’ medical missions. The fund supports refugee communities delivering critical medical support and services to Syrian refugees in Syria and neighboring countries.

As the Syrian refugee crisis continues for an 11th year, people who are affected need your help.

March 19, 2021

Ten years on, Syrian refugees’ lives in Iraq are growing tougher

Ten years on, since the advent of the Syrian crisis, life for Syrian refugee women, men, girls, and boys doesn’t get easier. In fact, with every passing year, it gets more difficult. We at SEMA US renew our commitment to support the refugee and host communities in Iraq and urge the international community to do the same.

By renewing our commitment, we pledge to continue to support refugees in Iraq to have a meaningful and dignified future through access to medical care.

Almost a quarter of a million Syrian refugees and asylum-seekers are still living in Iraq under tough living conditions since the beginning of the Syrian humanitarian crisis.

Protection risks, including child labour and early marriage, are becoming more acute, especially with the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Past gains in building self-reliance of refugees are at risk of being lost.

Meanwhile, the resources available to support them have been stretched past the breaking point. 

Access to primary health care has decreased, especially reproductive health care for women and girls, while food insecurity is on the rise. The risk of children not receiving a proper medical care is particularly high. It has been challenging for refugee children. 

Despite challenges and limitations faced in 2020, we continue to provide humanitarian medical support to the most vulnerable refugees and asylum-seekers in Iraq. We ensured the continuity of critical services and assistance, including registration and protection services, reproductive health services, malnutrition prevention for children, and awareness-raising activities to help safeguard the well-being of refugees.

We also help to set up isolation areas or hospital extensions, in addition to providing medical equipment, masks, PPEs, and medical plasticware to be used in camp-based primary healthcare clinics and hospitals.

The future of a whole generation of Syrians, as well as Syria and the region, is at stake if the Syria crisis continues, and the world does not remain engaged and committed to supporting refugees and host communities. Until the situation in Syria allows Syrian refugees to return in voluntary, safe, dignified, and well-informed manners, the international community must continue to support Syrian refugees in Iraq and worldwide to move ahead with their lives and have a better future.

Funding remains critical to address rising humanitarian and development needs. With the support of the international community, we can help create a better future for Syrian refugees in Iraq.

March 11, 2021

Reflecting on a Different and Remarkable Year of COVID-19

Thursday marks exactly one year since the coronavirus was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization.

Since then, the virus has taken some 2.6 million lives around the world.

365 days ago, a cluster of COVID-19 cases shut down communities. Soon after, businesses, restaurants, schools began to follow. At that time, the coronavirus was a foreign concept. Now it is part of everyday life.

The COVID pandemic has highlighted a world of inequality, where discrimination has passed unquestioned and livelihoods have been destroyed. The threat posed by failing health systems and lack of resources is as real today as it was at the outbreak of the pandemic, especially in underdeveloped countries.

As we reflect back on the past year, it is important to note how much we’ve lost and how far we’ve come. In response to the pandemic and myriad other crises, we came together as a community in ways we never could have imagined – supporting one another, finding solutions to complex challenges, and making significant sacrifices as individuals and as an organization. None of it has been easy, and for many in our community, the consequences of the pandemic have been nothing short of tragic. We want to extend our heartfelt condolences to those of you who have suffered the loss of a loved one, and my compassion to all who have faced – and may be continuing to deal with – your own serious health issues or other significant disruption to your lives due to COVID-19. 

We remain hopeful and optimistic that we are turning a corner. While we continue to see new cases of COVID-19 in the communities we serve, we try to have adequate resources to support and provide medical care to those who become infected, through your generosity. 

Looking ahead to what comes next, we all are thinking about a return to “normal,” and what “normal” even means anymore. No matter what happens, one thing we know, for better or worse, is that things will never be the same. 

Without question, this year has tested us on many levels. There has been heartbreak and disappointment. But it also has made us stronger. I’m grateful to every one of you for all you have given of yourselves to help refugees in need through our programs and we hope you allow us to continue our mission. In so many ways, you have shown that you truly kept our organization impactful.

From all of us at SEMA US,

Thank you very much.

March 4, 2021

A decade of destruction: attacks on health care in Syria

Since the onset of the Syria conflict in March 2011, civilians have borne the brunt of the violence and withstood untold suffering. Their health facilities have been hit particularly hard, even though they are protected from attack under international law and should be safe havens in times of great need.

Even as the COVID-19 pandemic spread in 2020, attacks persisted, destroying hospitals, killing medical personnel, and preventing many from seeking and receiving lifesaving medical attention. The remaining Syrian medical practitioners have risked their own lives to provide health care in the midst of horrific violence, despite a lack of equipment and medication.

Inside the destruction

  • 59% of civilians in northwest Syria have been directly impacted by an attack on health care facilities.
  • 12 million Syrians are in need of health assistance, and roughly one third require routine reproductive, maternal, neonatal and child health services.
  • 56% of Syrians fear living in proximity to a health facility given the risk of attack.
  • 84% of health workers reported that attacks on health care directly affected them, their team or their patients, and 81% know of patients or colleagues who were killed in attacks.


One in four health practitioners witnessed attacks that left facilities beyond repair or restoration, with many setting up facilities in unconventional places such as caves, private homes and underground cellars.

Only 64% of hospitals and 52% of primary health care centers are functioning across Syria, while an estimated 70% of the health workforce has fled the country.

“What we have been through has wholly affected our psyches. When you see your brother or your friend or son with their hand cut off or their leg cut off…this is a situation no mind would accept. But with the resilience of the medical staff and the resilience of those managing the work, with God’s support, the hospital remained in operation, providing these extraordinary services.” — Saleh, a health worker

How SEMA US helps

SEMA has been working in Syria supporting vulnerable communities suffering from violence and displacement. We ensure the uninterrupted flow of medicines, supplies and health care equipment. We also operate clinics and mobile teams to provide lifesaving trauma services and reproductive care. Our response to the pandemic also includes public education campaigns and training health workers in infection prevention and control.

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