As the worlds media continues to frame the conflict in Syria as a 'political crisis' thousands of families are being displaced every day. Forced from their homes, their villages and their communities.
Next week the number of registered refugees in the region will top 2M. An increase of 1.8M in less than 12 months. This makes it one of the worst humanitarian crises this century.
The surrounding countries of Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey have borne the brunt of those left displaced by the conflict. 75% of refugees are women and children, many are in informal camps with little safe spaces to gather and inadequate educational and health facilities. As members of the building industry we have a moral obligation to develop facilities that create secure, safe and welcoming environments that can bring a sense of normalcy. Facilities not just for a temporary situation but eventually a passage home.
The hidden humanitarian crisis will continue to be ignored as long as there are disparate voices. We need to work together to create a "Coalition of the Caring", organizations and groups that are dedicated to supporting the needs of those displaced by this conflict and are willing to help re-frame the conversation from one about bombing to one about building.
Theodore Roosevelt once said - "Do what you can, with what you have, where you are." - As an industry we must ask ourselves, what can we do?
What we can do.
1. Advocate: Last week we coalesced a series of gathering at the Clinton Global Initiative meeting in New York. These meetings included representatives from the UNHCR, Doctors Without Borders, Save the Children, IMC, Royal Hashemite Court, Pillosio, Karam Foundation, RYOT, Syria Deeply and many others. At the Annual Summit we addressed this issue at the closing plenary and made an appeal to work collectively.
2. Activate: We have assembled a team of Syrian, Jordanian and Persian architects and designers that are partnering on a research and development project to develop deploy-able shelter systems. Our teams will be based in Udine, Italy (for material and construction research) and Amman, Jordan (for implementation).
3. Ideate: Later this month we hope to launch the 2013 Open Architecture Challenge to develop deploy-able educational facilities for Syrian refugees. This competition will be open to all designers, with the aim of the winning design to be built as a working prototype. A sponsor for this competition is still being sought.
4. Implement: Starting next week we will launch an appeal to take ideas to action. This appeal includes a $15,000 matching grant that I am personally co-funding. These funds will be used to develop, build and implement a deploy-able educational 'center of excellence' in one or more of the existing camps.
Today marks 933 days since the crisis. We can no longer ask when we should act but why we didn't.
- Cameron Sinclair
Resources: Syria Deeply