On Thursday, June 21, Hudson Institute hosted a discussion with Archimandrite Dr. Alexi Chehadeh on the displacement of the Syrian people. From his unique vantage point as head of a local aid organization with access to all parts of Syria, Fr. Alexi discussed the humanitarian and reconstruction situation in the region, including the rebuilding of historical cultural sites of the Christian community. He also addressed the prospects of reconciliation and dialogue for peace. The conversation was moderated by Hudson Institute Visiting Fellow Dr. Elizabeth Prodromou.
Syria is cited as the world’s most catastrophic humanitarian crisis in current times. According to the State Department, nearly half a million have been killed, more than 6 million are internally displaced, and 5.5 million are refugees outside the country, burdening its North African neighbors and Europe alike. Syria’s Christian population, formerly amounting to 2 million, some 10 percent of the population, is reported to have declined by up to two thirds. Vast portions of the country’a infrastructure have been damaged while churches and other religious sites have been left in ruins.
With ISIS degraded, U.S.-supported forces govern nearly 30 percent of the country, while the Assad regime has consolidated control over much of the rest of Syria. While Washington has given recent focus to governance and de-escalation issues in the country, this is a pivotal moment for American policymakers and private sector to take stock of the humanitarian and stabilization needs of the Syrian people.