Searching For Syria: Dispelling Myths And Misconceptions

Last week, the United Nations Commission for Refugees, in partnership with Google launched a website:, to education people about Syria. It aims to answer questions like what Syria was like before the war, why the war broke out, and whether or not there is anything that people can do to help Syrian refugees.

It is important for world peace to gain understanding about situations as they are developing, and the reasons behind them. Only too often in history have people heard an inkling of a situation and immediately tried to help without fully realizing the implications and consequences of their actions. Much more can often be achieved if people are fully educated on events as they are happening, which is why this website is a helpful and exciting innovation from the United Nations. Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commission for Refugees stated this in not so many words, saying that “Searching for Syria aims to dispel myths and misconceptions about Syria and refugees and provide an entirely fresh look at the biggest humanitarian tragedy of today.”

The website is interactive, and in parts takes you to meet refugees such as Darie Alikaj, the microbiologist turned school teacher; and Faida, a refugee who fled to Lebanon and is struggling to raise her children. It is important to hear these people’s stories and to put a face, or faces, to the news reports about the millions of refugees fleeing Syria.

While there is a lot of media coverage on refugees in Europe, the majority of Syrians flee to the neighbouring countries of Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt. King Abdullah II of Jordan has compared the number of refugees coming into the country to 20% of the population. The United Nations reported that in 2015 Jordan had taken in 600,000 Syrians. This is a huge number of people, and while Jordan and the other bordering countries have limited funds, King Abdullah II has stated that taking the refugees in is one of the only things to differentiate Jordan from the horrible people making Syrians leave their country in the first place. These words are particularly inspiring and show that while the war raging through Syria no doubt brings out the worst in some people, it also shows the selfless and generous natures of others.

Although it may seem as if you can do nothing to help while you are on the other side of the world, reading articles and watching the news about these people struggling to find a place to live and raise their families, there is. As Filippo Grandi said, there are so many misconceptions on Syria and other war engaged countries. Raising awareness of the facts and true issues of Syrian refugees would help immensely and go a long way in dispelling these misconceptions.

Letitia Smith

Letitia is in her fourth year of study, working towards a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Criminal Justice.
Letitia Smith