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Even more difficult than providing assistance to refugees in camps is getting help to the internally displaced persons struggling to exist in Syrian war zones. Already, more than a dozen aid workers have been killed.

The United States is the largest provider of humanitarian assistance to refugees, contributing over $1 billion to date to the Syrian crisis. The U.N. High Commission on Refugees estimates it needs more than $5 billion to meet what may be the worst humanitarian crisis of our time. Instead of sending missiles to Syria, Americans should send mattresses and medical supplies.

Ellen Sauerbrey is a former assistant secretary of state for population, refugees and migration in the George W. Bush administration.