As the civil war in Syria continues to escalate, refugees are fleeing the country, in record numbers, seeking safety from the deadly violence and rapidly deteriorating humanitarian conditions. More than 1.6 million Syrians have flooded nearby countries overwhelming relief organizations and local governments and even more are displaced within the country. This situation is desperate and the growing humanitarian crisis nearing a breaking point. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees senior advisor Jana Mason, U.S. Commission on Internal Religious Freedom senior policy analyst, Tiffany Lynch and I participated in a fact-finding trip to the region in early June. They join me to discuss the alarming situation and growing needs of Syrian refugees.
I think it's unusual for the chief of staff to go on a trip, particularly on a trip this long. The chief of staff is usually more of a chief operating officer in the White House itself, and normally when your principal—whether it's the president himself or the head of Cabinet agency—goes abroad, you have his deputy and those folks staying behind to help manage operations in his absence.