BEIRUT, Lebanon — Every day, 2013 Syria is becoming more like 1994 Rwanda.
While civil violence inside the country has killed upwards of 100,000 people, millions fleeing the fighting have lost their homes and means to survive. Over 2 million have poured into neighboring countries as refugees; as many as 7 million, meanwhile, are internally displaced.
“We haven’t seen something like that maybe since Rwanda,” said Raymond Offenheiser, the president of Oxfam America.
Local and international aid groups can barely meet the needs of registered refugees.
“In the case of Lebanon, we’ve got a million refugees, so that’s literally an overnight increase of 25 percent of your population,” Offenheiser said.
“Try to imagine that happening in a state in the United States. … How would we feel if we had one and a half million people come into Massachusetts overnight and [had] to absorb that in the state budget and also in our education and health systems?”
Beyond the registered millions, there are thousands more Syrian refugee families who live with little or no aid. They’ve refused to enlist as refugees for fear of being marked as opposition and blacklisted by the Syrian regime.
Most say they just want to go home. But as the conflict escalates, it's unlikely that will happen any time soon.