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Catholic Near East Welfare Association
Forget geopolitics that make it all too easy to declare ourselves powerless. Think instead of the Syrian children and teens, of the millions of internally displaced persons and millions of refugee children whose journeys have been much too perilous. We all have a role to play in ensuring a better future for vulnerable children in Syria and in the neighbouring countries that have so generously opened their doors to nearly five million Syrians.
On January 30, I joined 300 Muslims and Christians who gathered at the Gatineau mosque. At the invitation of Archbishop Paul-André Durocher Catholics and Muslims started talking to each other -- embracing, shaking hands and some even hugging -- to find human beings that needed one another in this time of crisis.
Originally from Dara'a in Syria, the family have been in Za'atari since its beginning and are coming up to the five-year mark of living in the camp. Lina, the youngest, was born in the camp, and Adnan was only one month old when he arrived and says that he doesn't remember Syria.
I came to the camp not knowing what to expect and so worried about what I would see and feel. Instead, I left with feelings of hope, pride and sadness, and many lessons and gifts of the heart that I will forever cherish.
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Za'atari is a refugee camp -- 80,000 people live here now -- but it is in the process of becoming a city. New people are not arriving, another camp is taking those people now. And it is hard to know how many more people Jordan can take -- this country of a little more than six million people is also home to nearly three million refugees.
Four Mounties took part in an experimental community integration project in Jordan designed to help Syrian refugees and the police force itself.
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In South Sudan, domestic violence is widespread and largely tolerated. In the all-too-common words of two young women from Warrap State: "We are often beaten. When we make a mistake, we are beaten -- and there are so many mistakes." It was unfortunately not surprising that gender-based violence was a major threat for women living in IDP and refugee camps.
"Where is Canada?" In Turkey and Jordan recently, this was the question we heard over and over, from Syrian refugees themselves, crisis intervention workers, medical professionals, human rights activists and others dedicated to helping Syrians.To friends and family, I referred to my time in the region as a tour of shame, as a Canadian. There was a clear perception among the people we spoke with that Canada preferred Christian asylum seekers, and this explained the delays and inaction. As the now-infamous photo of Alan Kurdi reminds us, there is an immediate need for Canada to show leadership in developing a concrete solution.
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