Syria Crisis: Now Increased Awareness Among Americans

Syria refugees Adel and his siblings try to keep warm by the fire inside their makeshift home in the Bekaa Valley, Lebanon

Syria refugees Adel and his siblings try to keep warm by the fire inside their makeshift home in the Bekaa Valley, Lebanon

After more than four years of conflict in Syria, resulting in the largest humanitarian crisis of our time, it appears Americans are finally taking notice, according to a new survey.

The survey of more than 2,000 U.S. adults conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of World Vision in September showed an increase in perception of the magnitude of the Syria crisis as the event affecting the greatest number of people compared to other recent disasters (Earthquake in Haiti, Hurricane Katrina, Indian Ocean tsunami and Genocide in Rwanda) since 2014 (27 percent up from 10 percent).

In addition, among those familiar with the Syria conflict, more than 4 in 5 (83 percent) now believe the U.S. should help in some way (up from 76 percent in 2014).

[ Are Russian Airstrikes Killing Civilians in Syria? ]

The survey’s findings come as images of 3-year-old Alyan Kurdi – a Syrian child who drowned when his family tried to flee to Europe via the Mediterranean — shocked many and caused an outpouring of news coverage and calls for Western countries to do more.

According to World Vision, donations to World Vision tripled just one day after the photo’s release. Since the publication, World Vision has raised more than $2.6 million from more than 11,000 donors across the country. Hundreds of donors have pledged to turn their donation into a monthly recurring gift, says World Vision.

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“There’s been an outpouring of compassion among our donors and church partners. People saw that image of the little boy and realized he could be our own child or nephew,” said Rich Stearns, president of World Vision in the United States. “For the first time, instead of ‘the other,’ Americans recognized Syrian refugee children as the innocent victims they are – forced to deal with the consequences of a conflict they had no part in creating.”

World Vision says it has helped more than 2 million people in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Serbia. Programs include food and cash transfers, safe spaces for children to play, health care, remedial education and water and sanitation.

Other survey findings:

  • Nearly one in five (18 percent) Americans are still not familiar with Syria conflict
  • Americans are more inclined to support increasing humanitarian aid (44 percent) to help Syrian refugees than other interventions including increasing diplomatic pressure (31 percent)
  • Seniors age 65+ (91 percent) are more likely than those under age 65 (80 percent) to be familiar with the Syria crisis
  • Men (88 percent) more likely than women (77 percent) to be familiar with the Syria crisis
  • Seniors age 65+ (78 percent) are more likely than millennials age 18-34 (66 percent) to believe the U.S. should help those affected by Syria crisis

This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of World Vision from September 14-16, 2015, among 2,031 adults ages 18 and older.

World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization conducting relief, development, and advocacy activities in its work with children, families, and their communities in nearly 100 countries.

Photo courtesy: World Vision

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