UNHCR joins call in Turkey for solidarity with countries hosting Syrian refugees

News Stories, 17 January 2014

© UNHCR/E. Argunhan
Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and High Commissioner António Guterres meet Syrian refugee children.

HARRAN-KÖKENLI REFUGEE CAMP, Turkey, January 17 (UNHCR) UNHCR on Friday joined top officials from Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt in calling on the international community to boost solidarity with countries hosting the bulk of the refugees fleeing the conflict in Syria.

The appeal came in a joint statement released during a tour of the Harran-Kökenli refugee camp in south-eastern Turkey, which currently provides shelter to 14,000 Syrian refugees. Those taking part included UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres, Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, Jordan's Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Ibrahim Saif, Egyptian Deputy Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs Randa Labib and Lebanon's refugee coordinator, Makram Malaeb.

In their statement, they also deplored the extent of human suffering caused by the Syria crisis, its destabilizing impact on the entire region, and the threat it poses to global peace and security. They reiterated that the refugee influx was a result of the humanitarian tragedy in Syria, and underlined that unless stability and security was reestablished, a solution would remain elusive.

"It is clear that there can be no military solution to the conflict. The solution must be political," the joint statement said. "We therefore appeal to all parties to the conflict to put their differences aside and come together for the Geneva II conference on January 22, where some real steps must be taken towards finding a political solution and putting an end to the fighting."

It further declared that "Geneva II cannot be indifferent to the humanitarian dimension of the Syrian conflict and dramatic suffering of the Syrian people. Conditions must be created for humanitarian agencies to have unimpeded access to all the victims of the conflict, independently of their location inside Syria."

The statement also reiterated calls made last October at a UNHCR-led international gathering in Geneva for more financial aid and solidarity to help ease the burden on neighbouring states.

The ministers and UNHCR encouraged other countries to keep their borders open for Syrians seeking protection, to further enhance resettlement and humanitarian admission programmes for refugees, and introduce more flexible family reunification procedures and visa requirements for Syrians. In addition, UNHCR has called for a global moratorium on returns of Syrians to Syria and to countries in the region hosting the vast majority of refugees.

There are now more than 2.3 million registered Syrian refugees in the region, including some 869,000 in Lebanon, 600,000 in Jordan, 582,000 in Turkey, 213,000 in Iraq and over 132,000 in Egypt. Governments estimate actual numbers to be much higher. In addition, an estimated total of 6.5 million people are displaced inside Syria.

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A Face in a Million: the Struggle of Syria's Refugees in Lebanon

They are everywhere in Lebanon - 1 million Syrian refugees, in a land of 4.8 million people. There are no refugee camps in Lebanon. Instead, most rent apartments and others live in makeshift shelters and in garages, factories and prisons. Three years after the Syria crisis began, Lebanon has become the country with the highest concentration per capita of refugees in the world. It's struggling to keep pace with the influx. Rents have spiked, accommodation is scarce; food prices are rising. Meanwhile, a generation could be lost. Half of Syria's refugees are children; most don't go to school. Instead many of them work to help their families survive. Some marry early, others must beg to make a bit of money. Yet they share the same dream of getting an education.

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Award-winning photojournalist Lynsey Addario visited Tin City and other areas of Lebanon with UNHCR to show the faces and suffering of Syrians to the world. Addario, in publications such as The New York Times and National Geographic, has highlighted the victims of conflict and rights abuse around the world, particularly women.

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