YWAM Middle East

 

We look forward to the day when we can again return to Syria to bless this beautiful country and help it rebuild after this devastating war.  The civil war means that none of our staff are able to be serving inside Syria at this time. However we continue to love Syria and reach out to Syrians wherever they are.

PEOPLE:

Population of Syria has been 17.9 million, although this is rapidly declining as refugees flee the ongoing civil war in Syria.
90% are Arab.  The remaining 10% are mainly Kurds and Armenians.  
The official language is Arabic and some speak Kurdish, Armenian and Aramaic.  

Islam is the main and official religion, 87% (Sunni 74% and Alawi, Ismaili, and Shia 13%). 10% of Syrians are Christians (includes Orthodox, Uniate, and Nestorian).
3% are Druze, an Islamic sect.

Syria was, in the past, a stable nation (stable but not free) and they were agriculturally rich.  They produced wheat, barley, cotton, lentils, chickpeas, olives, sugar beets, beef, mutton, eggs, poultry and milk.  Its industry included petroleum and textile production, mining and car assembly.

Syria

Up until 2011, Syria was a relatively stable nation.  Its socialist dictators (Hafez AlAsad and now his son, Bashar AlAsad) kept a tight reign on the country, reminiscent of Romania or Russia during communist times.  

The country’s ethnic mix has long been a cause of tension.  Though the majority of Syrians are Sunni Muslim, the ruling party is of the Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shia (the exact opposite situation as Iraq under Sadam Hussein).  

In 2011, the Arab Spring inspired peaceful opposition demonstrations.  Harsh responses soon turned these demonstrations violent, and the country has spiraled downwards into the grinding civil war we see today.  Many expect it is unlikely that either side will decisively win, but that in the end, exhaustion and bankruptcy might force the opposing sides into compromise.  Civil war has torn apart what was a fairly peaceful, tolerant society and destroyed much of the country.

Millions have been displaced internally in the country and millions more have fled as refugees to Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt.

PLACE:

Syria is a republic under an authoritarian regime led by Bashar Al Assad. Influenced by major uprisings that began elsewhere in the region, anti-government protests broke out in the southern province of Dar'a in March 2011.  Protesters were calling for the repeal of the restrictive Emergency Law allowing arrests without charge, the legalization of political parties, and the removal of corrupt local officials.

The government responded to the unrest with some concessions (including the repeal of the Emergency Law) and with deadly force. Since 2011 this has descended further in to civil war, with many Islamist groups and foreign Islamist fighters joining the struggle against the government. What began as a struggle for freedom in Syria has become a sectarian struggle between the Alawite rulers of the country (aligned with the Shiites of Iran) and the Sunni majority (aligned with and sponsored by the gulf states).

Long Term Opportunities

YWAM is very involved in reaching out to the refugees who have fled the civil war in Syria.  For more information on how to get involved, go to the Syria Crisis Response page.

Though work inside Syria would currently be quite difficult and dangerous; as the situation changes, there will be opportunities for help and ministry within Syria.  

Those with a heart to work in Syria long term should take this opportunity to prepare – learn language, do a SOFM (School of Frontier Missions), get involved with reaching Syrians in neighbouring countries.

RANDOM FACTS:

The Syrian capital of Damascus is one of the oldest and continuously inhabited cities in the world.

Syria was once a major center for weaving and grading in textiles. The artisans of Damascus mastered the ancient technique for weaving patterns into cloth known as Damask, which has become very famous.

The ancient city of Ugarit (Ras Shamra) was discovered in 1929. This is believed to be where the oldest alphabet of the world originated.

Language Learning


The dialect of Arabic spoken in Syria is closest to Lebanon or Jordan, so learning language in either of those countries would be suitable.  Of the 2, Jordan probably has the better language training opportunities (See Jordan Language Learning for more information).

 

Visas


We do not currently recommend travel to Syria.

 

Cost of Living

Syria has been a cheap place to live, but everything has become much more expensive during the war. Post war reconstruction and returning refugees would probably drive those costs even higher when the war finishes.

 

Travel

Syria has multiple airports but not all are operating at this time. In more peaceful days there were good quality buses and shared – taxis from Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey and within Syria. But in these days, overland travel in the nation would be very dangerous.

 

Short Term

YWAM is not currently offering short term opportunities inside Syria.
However we do have many opportunities for serving the millions of Syrian refugees in nearby countries.

See the Syria Refugee Ministry page.

 

Security Situation

Ongoing Civil War makes this country one of the most dangerous places in the world at this time. Even in areas not undergoing fighting there are increasing reports of kidnapping and other crimes.

 

Who to talk to

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