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“All human beings are born free and equal

in dignity and rights.”

- Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Five Years of War: The Plight of Civilians in Syria and the Refugee Crisis of a Generation

Wednesday, March 16, 2016 - 10:00am
2255 Rayburn House Office Building


Briefing Series on Syria

To mark the five-year anniversary of the conflict in Syria, please join the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission for an update from regional experts on the complex humanitarian situation in Syria and recommendations on how the international community can most effectively support civilians impacted by the conflict.

In 1951, the United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees became the first international agreement to detail the fundamental rights and freedoms of a refugee. The Convention, to which 145 nations are currently states parties, strongly emphasizes the need for international cooperation to address refugee crises.

Today, we are witnessing the largest global displacement and refugee crisis since World War II. According to UNHCR, every day during 2014 on average 42,500 people became refugees, asylum seekers, or internally displaced, a four-fold increase in just four years. One in every 122 people has been forced to flee their home and the total number of people forced to flee may have exceeded 60 million by the end of 2015. Since early 2011, the single largest driver of mass displacement has been the war in Syria.

With these staggering trends, it becomes increasingly important for the international community to prioritize a peaceful solution to the crisis of our generation. At this briefing, panelists will discuss the importance of international humanitarian law and how the U.S. can further engage on the protection of civilians in Syria. This briefing will also provide up-to-date details on the challenges that civilians face inside Syria, including the implications of the recent ceasefire agreement and humanitarian access into besieged areas. 

Hosted By: 

Joseph R. Pitts, M.C.
Co-Chairman, TLHRC
James P. McGovern, M.C.
Co-Chairman, TLHRC



  • Wynn Flaten, Syria Crisis Response Director, World Vision
  • Frances Charles, Syria Crisis Response Advocacy Director, World Vision
  • Erin A. Weir, Senior Policy and Advocacy Advisor, NGO Forum (a body composed of 52 international and Syrian humanitarian organizations currently operating in northern Syria


  • Stephanie Hammond, Policy Advisor, Conflicts and Disasters, World Vision

Opening Remarks

  • Rep. Joseph R. Pitts, Co-Chair, Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission


114th Congress