27 Mar 2015
Since the brutal civil war in Syria began in 2011, more than three million people have fled the conflict. The majority of those who have sought refuge in neighboring Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, Egypt, and Turkey — four in five, according to the U.N. — are Syrian women and children. Moreover, a recent study by the U.N. Refugee Agency reports that some 145,000 Syrian refugee households are headed by women. “It is a daily struggle to make ends meet,” Ariane Rummery, a spokesperson at the U.N. Refugee Agency, tells Bustle. “In many ways the problems the women face represent the broader problems of the refugees, but I think women face additional challenges, as well.” On March 15, the war entered its fifth year. With no signs of a peaceful resolution in the near future, Syria’s women refugees will continue to face numerous hurdles. Here are four major issues, and what you can do to help. According to the U.N. Refugee Agency report, Syrian women are grappling with poor living conditions in their host countries. In a camp in Jordan, refugees reside in tents and caravans. Home for others comes in the form of damp garages or tiny, overcrowded dwellings far from basic services. The winter months are especially harsh, particularly for women living in flimsy tents or in shelters without sufficient heating. In Lebanon, there are no official refugee camps at all, and many displaced women shelter in makeshift tents on rented parcels of agricultural land. “We call them a ‘collection’ or a ‘tented settlement,’” Patricia Mouammar, an aid worker with the Christian relief organization World Vision tells Bustle in a phone interview from Lebanon. Because of the distance from larger town centers, she says that women are unable to access basic services or send their children to school. In inclement weather, tents often collapse, forcing families to share an already cramped dwelling. “It gets even more crowded,” Mouammar says. Disaster relief organization Islamic Relief USA is providing housing rental assistance, gas heaters, blankets, and mattresses for refugees in Jordan and Lebanon. You can support these programs by donating online.