5 December 2014
World leaders are failing to offer protection to Syria’s most vulnerable refugees with catastrophic consequences, Amnesty International has warned in a new briefing ahead of a UN pledging conference in Geneva on 9 December.
Left Out in the Cold: Syrian refugees abandoned by the international community highlights the pitiful numbers of resettlement places offered by the international community. Around 3.8 million refugees from are being hosted in five main countries within the region: Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt. Only 1.7 per cent of this number have been offered sanctuary by the rest of the world since the crisis began more than three years ago.
The Gulf states– which include some of the world’s wealthiest countries – have not offered to take a single refugee from Syria so far. Russia and China have similarly failed to pledge a single resettlement place. Excluding Germany, the rest of the European Union (EU) has pledged to resettle a paltry 0.17 per cent of refugees in the main host countries.
“The shortfall in the number of resettlement places for refugees offered by the international community is truly shocking. Nearly 380,000 people have been identified as in need of resettlement by the UN refugee agency, yet just a tiny fraction of these people have been offered sanctuary abroad,” said Sherif Elsayed-Ali, Amnesty International’s Head of Refugee and Migrants’ Rights.
“The World Food Programme announcement earlier this week that is has been forced to suspend food aid to 1.7 million refugees due to a funding crisis underscores the abysmal response of the international community.
“The complete absence of resettlement pledges from the Gulf is particularly shameful. Linguistic and religious ties should place the Gulf states at the forefront of those offering safe shelter to refugees fleeing persecution and war crimes in Syria.”
In Lebanon, a country with a precarious economy and mounting debt, the influx of refugees from Syria has increased the country’s population by 26 per cent. The number of refugees hosted there is 715 times the total of the number of Syrians who sought asylum in the EU in the last three years and the resettlement places offered by the EU.
The lack of international support has had disastrous consequences with the five main host countries, who are currently hosting at least 95 per cent of Syria’s refugees, seriously struggling to cope. Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan have imposed severe restrictions on the entry of refugees in recent months leaving many trapped in Syria at serious risk of abuses by government forces or at the hands of the group that calls itself the Islamic State (IS) and other armed groups.