As the war in Syria began in 2011, many thought that the ruler, president Bashar Al-Assad’s government would fall as other muslim countries had in the Arab Spring uprising that had been sweeping the region in North Africa. But many underestimated Assad’s grip on the country and that he would get military and political support from Russia. As always it is the civilians who are caught up in any war, and in a civil war, as the country divides, it can be doubly so.
After days of rioting by civilians asking for their rights, Assad’s military forces went after Syrians and began a war that is still raging today (in 2019). Executions and massacres became common and many people were scared. At that point, civilians began leaving their homes in the hopes of a chance to get away from the war. At first, people went to Jordan and Lebanon and others went to Turkey.
To make matters worse, Islamic jihadists began to join the fight against Assad and brought with them their own brand of terror as they forced the communities they invaded to adhere to strict Islamic law. The people of Syria felt they were caught between two forces with no end in sight. By this point, millions of people were forced from their homes by violence or the threat of violence.
The Unwanted: Stories of the Syrian refugees by Don Brown is a stark look at what happens when a country falls into utter chaos and who ultimately always pays the highest price. The book also looks at how a country falling to pieces has a ripple effect on the whole world as others try to help, or turn away, the victims of the war.
Recommended for 6th grade and up.