SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — An associate professor at UC Davis spent years in Syria helping refugees is now watching from afar as the civil war has escalated, leaving hundreds of thousands dead.
Already heart-wrenching conditions may get even worse as the threat of war looms in Syria.
“Schools are closed; people aren’t working; bread lines stretch miles; there’s no gasoline; it’s hard to travel in and out; it’s just suffering all over the place,” said Keith David Watenpaugh.
Should the violence escalate, the likelihood of more refugees leaving the Middle-Eastern country increases. It’s organizations like the International Rescue Committee that will be asked to help families uprooted to the United States.
“Helping them in job placement, helping them enroll their children in school, helping them with social services and anything else they may need to rebuild their lives here,” said Azzie Rapadas.
Watenpaugh, an associated professor at UC Davis, spent several years in Syria. He says with millions of people already pushed from their homes, action is needed.
“I think unfortunately we should have been more involved in protecting civilians from the very beginning.”
That beginning was 2 and a half years ago when the civil war began. More than 100,000 people have died. But now with evidence the Syrian government used chemical weapons on its people, the United States and others are ready to begin a military assault.
“We’ll hopefully send a message to the Syrian government and to other governments that have chemical weapons that their use is unacceptable.”
A local center that helps refugees says while there are very few from Syria here now, Sacramento is a prime place because of the diversity and access to services.