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FAI Relief in Syria: IDPs face fear and uncertainty near Golan border

Syrian IDPs cluster near Golan border with Israel

A new report and interview with Dalton Thomas of FAI Relief provides an on-the-ground look at Syrian IDPs and refugees fleeing fighting in southern Syria near Dara'a and Quneitra towards the Golan. A photo on July 9 showed Syrian IDPs near the Golan with signs saing "we demand to have international [support] so we can live in peace."

Dalton Thomas, founder and president of FAI Relief, who visited Syrian IDPs near the Golan border fence said that they face fear and uncertainty. His organization has been working in Syria for a year, providing medical support and other humanitarian aid.

In 2017 he told Chris Mitchell that "We support the State of Israel and we love the Jewish people..."So to be able to engage the Syrian crisis through the Israeli border in cooperation with the Israeli army is a huge privilege for us as an organization.”  The article notes that FAI working through the IDF's Good Neighbor operation, sent a Christian medical team deep inside Syria.  

Now in a new report the FAI team says that the IDPs are facing numerous problems because they are cut off from aid from Jordan.

In recent weeks its humanitarian aid has included 300 tents and more than 50 tons of aid, some donated by Israelis. Nic Walsh, an FAI Relief team leader, said she has seen the fear and uncertainty gripping the south Syrian refugees.

“People struggle to eat and sleep, and get their heads around the idea that this is the end,” she said. For them the “end” means the conclusion of the Syrian civil war that erupted in 2011 in Deraa in which more than 500,000 people have died. Now the regime, backed by Russia’s air force and Iranian-supported militias, is closing in on the rebels’ remaining pockets.

“We have been visiting people and encouraging them, letting them know we are still going to be here and support them,” she said.

Jordan's sealed border

One of the problems facing the IDPs is that they previously relied on a lot of their aid coming from Jordan. Since the regime began its offensive Jordan has kept its border close. In early July the rebels agreed to a deal with the Russians that saw the regime return to the Jordan-Syria border. This has cut these areas off from their supply route. As the regime closes in on the Quneitra pocket the IDPs rely more heavily on Israel as a conduit for goods and aid.

"People are saying there is a ton of aid stuck in Jordan, and are appealing for this aid to go through Israel...The locals see Israel as the lifeline,” Dalton says. He also notes that the current crises is not the end, but the beginning of a series of new issues facing the Syrians in this part of Syria.

“Regardless of what happens with the [Assad] regime, if it comes [down to the Golan border] there is no way the people in these communities will get what they need. They will be in just as dire a situation the day after as they were six months ago."

Screenshot of IDPs holding up a sign asking for international support

The Syrians are asking for help, but at the moment it seems most of the international community is looking elsewhere.

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