Youtube screen capture of a SAT-7 ACADEMY programme, City of Stars
“Through satellite TV, we can reach out to 450 million people in this part (Middle East and North Africa) of the world, where most people have never met a Christian, seen a church or had a Bible in their own hands, but they can see the Gospel at home. They can watch our programmes in their language 24 hours a day — our production crew knows their problems and difficulties, and also their source of happiness.” —Kurt Johansen, executive director of SAT-7 Europe, Asia and Pacific
The conflict in Syria has already been 8 years. Although extremist group ISIS was reported driven out of the country, this multi-nations battle is yet to be ended. The Syrian government forces were still fighting with the rebels in May. Chronic warfare resulted in uncountable casualties and destruction. Millions of civilians lost their homes, and were either displaced within the country or have fled to countries in the Middle East and North Africa to seek asylum, such as Lebanon, Turkey, and Jordan. When their homelands were still devastated by conflicts, rebuilding their country seemed impossible. How do these refugees live in neighbouring countries? Why are their children and other Middle Eastern and North African children described as “the lost generation”? While facing multifaceted challenges, how does this younger generation bear hope for the future? Kurt Johansen, executive director of SAT-7 Europe, Asia and Pacific, a partner of CEDAR, answered our questions one by one.
“We used to think about being doctors or teachers. Now all we think about is how to feed our families. We’re carrying a heavy load on our shoulders. It’s beyond our age.” A 17-year-old Syrian refugee in Turkey said.
The Syrian refugee crisis has yet to end. The living condition of those refugees who have fled to neighbouring countries are desperate. However, different people have different wishes. Let’s hear what they say:-
Samaher, Syrian refugee, a mother of two daughters
“The condition here is dire, but my home is here”
“I only want my kids to have a bright future, that was why I brought them to Europe”
“One day we will return to Syria and tell others our stories as refugees”
“There is nothing here for us, I wish I will be treated as a person in Europe”
“I cry for Syria, we have lost everything in Syria. I miss Syria, I miss our home.”
Living in Hong Kong, we probably feel that the refugee situation is not close to us, but their experience is real. Though we may not know, the Syrian people have been seriously affected by war and conflict there. Unfortunately, the number of refugees have reached the historic height of over 60 million.
The conflict has its roots in protests that erupted in mid-March 2011 in the southern city of Deraa, after the arrest and torture of some teenagers who painted revolutionary slogans on a school wall. Syria’s crisis enters its forth year and fighting in Syria between government forces and opposing groups continues to escalate. More than 100,000 lives have been lost and over 2.5 million Syrians have registered as refugees in neighbouring countries including Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt. With displacement inside Syria reaches over 6.5 million, the total number of people in flight internally and externally now exceeds 40% of Syria’s pre-conflict population. At least half of the displaced are children. UNHCR predicts the refugee population in the surrounding region will grow to become the largest refugee population in the world.
With a population of around 4.1 million, Lebanon already has the highest per-capita concentration of refugees of any country in recent history, with nearly 230 registered Syrian refugees for every 1,000 Lebanese. Syria’s neighbouring countries, including Lebanon and Jordan, have shown incredible generosity in continuing to offer a safe refuge for people fleeing the crisis. However, drastically increased numbers of arrivals lead to the consequence that basic services and facilities are stretched to the limit. Worse of all, more and more Syrians are putting their lives at the mercy of human smugglers.
This is the most severe humanitarian crisis in the 21st century. The unending cycle of violence, displacement, worsening health, disruption to education and learning put millions of Syrians at risk. A generation, with over 5 million Syrian children, is also at risk of being lost forever. The United Nations stressed the need for a political solution to end the conflict. Only with a political intervention will Syria and her people be rescued from further devastation.
Since 2012, Integral Alliance, a global alliance comprising of 19 Christian relief and development agencies, has been providing relief materials, food parcel, medical care and psychosocial care to Syrian refugees. CEDAR is one of the member agencies of Integral Alliance. Let us pray for Syrian refugees continually. May peace and hope prevail in Syria. [Integral Alliance, Tearfund UK, UNHCR, UN]
Meditate on Hymn:
‘Let Your Heart Be Broken’
May this hymn be your prayers and will:
Let your heart be broken for a world in need: Feed the mouths that hunger, soothe the wounds that bleed,
Give the cup of water and the loaf of bread
Be the hands of Jesus, serving in His stead.
Here on earth applying principles of love,
Visible expression God still rules above
Living illustration of the Living Word
To the minds of all whove Never seen or heard.
Blest to be a blessing privileged to care,
Challenged by the need apparent everywhere.
Where mankind is wanting, fill the vacant place.
Be the means through which the Lord reveals His grace.
Add to your believing deeds that prove it true,
Knowing Christ as Savior, make Him Master, too.
Follow in His footsteps, go where He has trod;
In the worlds great trouble risk yourself for God.
Let your heart be tender and your vision clear;
See mankind as God sees, serve Him far and near.
Let your heart be broken by a brothers pain;
Share your rich resources, give and give again.
Pray for Syria that:
International communities and leaders put most efforts to support an immediate end to the Syrian war;
More support including financial assistance be given to Syria’s neighbouring countries such as Lebanon, from which protect and host can be provided to Syrian refugees;
Lives and basic needs of Syrian refugees are secured and the refugees can return home soon.