THE SYRIAN CATASTROPHE
If Congress authorizes a punitive military strike against the regime of Bashar al-Assad, it will have consequences far beyond Syria’s borders. Pulitzer Center grantees Hugh Eakin and Alisa Roth recently spent time along some of those borders, visiting refugee camps and documenting the growing humanitarian crisis in Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq and Jordan.
The upheaval in Syria has already created 1.5 million refugees and the UN estimates that there could be another 2 million by year’s end. As Hugh and Alisa report, this has raised fears that the Syrian conflict could spill across borders—as already appears to be occurring in Lebanon.
In a dispatch from the Kurdish territory of northern Iraq for The New York Review of Books, Hugh writes that the beleaguered regional government “has had to deal with ten times as many Syrian refugees as anticipated a year ago—numbers which have quickly exhausted its political will or administrative capacity to deal with them. And now it faces growing agitation among its own people to enter the war, despite indications that sending in [Kurdish] fighters might be disastrous for Kurdish unity in the region.”
A THIRD LEBANON WAR FOR ISRAEL
Israel is also bracing for the fallout from Syria. Pulitzer Center grantee Yochi Dreazen visited a military base where “troops are training in a mock Lebanese village for a war that seems increasingly likely to come sooner rather than later.”
Writing for Tablet, Yochi reports that “[j]ust last week, four rockets were fired from southern Lebanon toward Haifa, triggering the first retaliatory Israeli air strikes against Lebanese targets in more than two years. A local branch of an al-Qaida spin-off group claimed responsibility for the attack, which provided an unsettling reminder of the missile threat growing just a few miles from Israel’s northern border.”
REMEMBER TO BRUSH YOUR TEETH
A decade ago a young women named Laura Spero, then 22, started an organization to bring dental care to remote Nepali communities. Today, the organization serves 18,000 people in two villages. Most of the funding comes from Spero’s hometown of Bethesda, MD.
Tooth decay may not seem like a major public health issue, but in rural Nepal, poor oral hygiene is a primary cause of the country’s high rate of heart disease and diabetes. According to Pulitzer Center grantee Jennifer Miller, “the recent influx of Western sugar and processed food had left 69 percent of Nepali adults with untreated dental problems…and affected more Nepali children than malnutrition.”
In her engaging cover story for The Washington Post Magazine, Jennifer tells the story of how one individual—and one community—can make a big difference.