You have probably noticed that the ongoing civil war in Syria continues to impact our programming – in our blog, podcast, and planning for our on-the-ground programs in Iraq – chiefly in respect to the growing humanitarian crisis facing 200,000 Syrian refugees who have flooded into the country to escape conflict. We want to explain briefly why and to what extent we are devoting our attention to this issue.
EPIC’s mission is to help bring peace and humanitarian action to Iraq by educating both the youth in that country, and Western political leadership. We don’t need to highlight here the immense need that exists in both arenas. The youth of Iraq, so crucial for the creation of a long-term stable society on the Tigris, needs help bridging religious, sectarian, and political lines. Here in the West, we see collective amnesia and a focus on other short-term problems that flies in the face of the continued strategic importance of Iraq in the Middle East. If Iraq fails, the costs are incalculable, both on a human level and from an international security perspective.
The Syrian civil war is of serious concern to EPIC in large part because it is escalating political tensions and violent conflict in Iraq. Therefore, as an organization dedicated to peace in Iraq, we cannot simply ignore it. The relentless flow of people from a war zone over the border can create cover for the movement of weapons and armed combatants; the sudden addition of hundreds of thousands of new residents can stretch limited resources and already-stretched government services. Refugee camps are often sources of new ideas and influences. Both our on-the-ground programs and our advocacy efforts must consider all of those factors in our strategic planning. Finally, the reason why Iraq is worth investing in is precisely because of its adjacency to virtually all other major countries in the region. What we’re seeing with Syria here would be repeated if there was ever upheaval in Iran, or Jordan, or the Arabian Peninsula.
Iraq remains the focus of our mission and work. We do not intend to divert our limited resources to the Syrian factor specifically. But where it impacts or overlaps with our programs, we will do what we can.
With that in mind, we would like to take a moment to recognize the critical efforts of UNHCR, Mercy Corps, and IRC — trusted agencies that are well-equipped to simultaneously respond to Syria and other humanitarian emergencies. We are also pleased to publicize one of the most reliable Syria-focused aid agencies, Syria Relief and Development, and the important life-saving advocacy and research of Refugees International.
Thank you for your continued support.
EPIC Board President