August 16, 2017
Can the international community contain the crisis?

Refugee populations are expanding — from 11.7 million in 2013 to 22.5 million today. Violent conflicts in the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere are driving refugees to neighboring countries and to Europe and the United States. Syrians constitute the world’s largest refugee population, with 5 million living in neighboring countries. As the number of refugees increases, so does controversy about how to help them. Federal courts blocked President Trump’s executive orders in January and March that sought to temporarily halt refugee resettlement in the United States, but the Supreme Court in July upheld the latest order. Members of the European Union, meanwhile, remain divided on resettlement plans, and countries failing to meet their commitments to take in refugees could face fines.

Syrian refugees arrive in Wadi Hamayyed in northeastern Lebanon on Aug. 2, 2017. (AFP/Getty Images/Stringer) Syrian refugees arrive in Wadi Hamayyed in northeastern Lebanon on Aug. 2, 2017. Some 1.5 million Syrians have fled their nation’s civil war to neighboring Lebanon. (AFP/Getty Images/Stringer)

In June, more than 20,000 people signed an online petition to the U.S. State Department and the United Nations asking the global community to relocate the 1.5 million Syrian refugees living in Lebanon, which has the world’s highest number of refugees per capita. 1

A nation of 4.5 million, Lebanon also is home to 450,000 Palestinian refugees and 6,000 Iraqi refugees. 2 In April, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri told journalists ahead of an international conference on Syria in Brussels that his nation is at a “breaking point,” and he asked for financial help. “The international community has to understand that Lebanon cannot pay the price of the unresolved conflict in Syria,” he said. 3