UNHCR urges Europe to do more to help Syrian refugees

News Stories, 11 July 2014

© UNHCR
Norway accelerated the resettlement of a Syrian refugee family because the baby Yousef needed urgent medical care. The family now lives in a house in Oslo and everyone is learning Norwegian.

GENEVA, 11 July (UNHCR) The UN refugee agency on Friday called for European nations to do more to help Syrian refugees who are trying in growing numbers to reach the safety of Europe.

A new report, Syrian Refugees in Europe: What Europe can do to Ensure Protection and Solidarity, found that Europe is shouldering only a small part of the Syrian refugee problem. Just four per cent of Syrian refugees have sought asylum in Europe.

Since the conflict began in March 2011, some 123,600 Syrians have sought asylum in Europe, not including Turkey. There are over 2.9 million refugees in countries immediately neighbouring Syria.

UNHCR urged states to ensure access to their territory, including fair and efficient asylum procedures; to provide adequate reception conditions; and to take other measures to provide protection and safety for refugees fleeing the conflict in Syria.

"An increasing number of Syrians are now seeking safety in countries beyond the immediate region," UNHCR spokesperson Melissa Fleming told reporters. "Many are embarking on long and dangerous journeys to reach safety and in some cases to reunite with family members already in Europe."

In the EU, Syrian asylum-seekers are mostly concentrated in a few states: Sweden and Germany received 56 per cent of all new Syrian asylum applications, and the top five receiving countries (Sweden, Germany, Bulgaria, Switzerland and the Netherlands) received almost 70 per cent.

The number of Syrians reaching Europe by sea increased in 2013, with Syrians among the main nationalities rescued in the Mediterranean 11,307 Syrians by Italy alone in 2013. The numbers crossing by sea has risen again this year.

A high number of Syrians arrive in many European countries intending to proceed to other destinations. Reasons behind the onward movement are complex: inadequate reception conditions, difficulties accessing the asylum procedure, family links in other countries and an expectation of better assistance and integration prospects in other countries.

"Today's report urges countries across Europe to implement a comprehensive response based on their responsibilities under international and regional law and to clearly demonstrate solidarity with countries in the region," Fleming said at a news briefing. "This includes enhancing legal ways for Syrian refugees to reach Europe."

UNHCR welcomed the treatment of Syrians by many European states, including the de facto moratorium on returns to Syria, access to asylum procedures in most countries and the high protection rates granted to Syrians.

However, the report also highlighted gaps and practices that concern UNHCR. These include pushbacks at land and sea borders reported in Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Spain, Albania, Montenegro, the Russian Federation, Serbia and Ukraine.

There was also concern at slow access to effective asylum procedures, inadequate reception conditions, backlogs in asylum procedures, barriers to family reunification, the lack of mechanisms to identify and assist asylum-seekers with vulnerabilities, and use of detention.

UNHCR wants countries to look at all options, including resettlement, admission based on humanitarian needs, admission schemes based on private sponsorship and the use of programmes such as student or employment visas. UNHCR urged states to actively facilitate family reunification, including for extended family members of Syrians who have already been granted some form of protection in Europe.

European countries have to date offered 31,817 places for resettlement, humanitarian and other forms of admission for refugees from Syria. UNHCR has called on states to provide resettlement and other forms of admission for 100,000 Syrians in 2015 and 2016.

Read the report http://www.refworld.org/docid/53b69f574.html

• DONATE NOW •

 

• GET INVOLVED • • STAY INFORMED •
Emergency Resettlement – One Family's Journey to a New LifePlay video

Emergency Resettlement – One Family's Journey to a New Life

After their family fled Syria, young brothers Mohamed and Youssef still were not safe. Unable to access medical treatment for serious heart and kidney conditions, they and the rest of their family were accepted for emergency resettlement to Norway.

UNHCR country pages

Advocacy

Advocacy is a key element in UNHCR activities to protect people of concern.

Resettlement

An alternative for those who cannot go home, made possible by UNHCR and governments.

UNHCR Resettlement Handbook

UNHCR Resettlement Handbook – July 2011 edition [pdf]

Resettlement from Tunisia's Choucha Camp

Between February and October 2011, more than 1 million people crossed into Tunisia to escape conflict in Libya. Most were migrant workers who made their way home or were repatriated, but the arrivals included refugees and asylum-seekers who could not return home or live freely in Tunisia.

UNHCR has been trying to find solutions for these people, most of whom ended up in the Choucha Transit Camp near Tunisia's border with Libya. Resettlement remains the most viable solution for those registered as refugees at Choucha before a cut-off date of December 1, 2011.

As of late April, 14 countries had accepted 2,349 refugees for resettlement, 1,331 of whom have since left Tunisia. The rest are expected to leave Choucha later this year. Most have gone to Australia, Norway and the United States. But there are a more than 2,600 refugees and almost 140 asylum-seekers still in the camp. UNHCR continues to advocate with resettlement countries to find solutions for them.

Resettlement from Tunisia's Choucha Camp

Iraqi Children Go To School in Syria

UNHCR aims to help 25,000 refugee children go to school in Syria by providing financial assistance to families and donating school uniforms and supplies.

There are some 1.4 million Iraqi refugees living in Syria, most having fled the extreme sectarian violence sparked by the bombing of the Golden Mosque of Samarra in 2006.

Many Iraqi refugee parents regard education as a top priority, equal in importance to security. While in Iraq, violence and displacement made it difficult for refugee children to attend school with any regularity and many fell behind. Although education is free in Syria, fees associated with uniforms, supplies and transportation make attending school impossible. And far too many refugee children have to work to support their families instead of attending school.

To encourage poor Iraqi families to register their children, UNHCR plans to provide financial assistance to at least 25,000 school-age children, and to provide uniforms, books and school supplies to Iraqi refugees registered with UNHCR. The agency will also advise refugees of their right to send their children to school, and will support NGO programmes for working children.

UNHCR's ninemillion campaign aims to provide a healthy and safe learning environment for nine million refugee children by 2010.

Iraqi Children Go To School in Syria

Iraqi Refugees in Syria: 2,000 New Arrivals Daily

The UN refugee agency is increasingly alarmed over the continuing violence in Iraq and distressed about the lack of an international humanitarian response to deal with the massive numbers of people being displaced. After an assessment mission in November last year, UNHCR officials warned that the agency was facing an even larger humanitarian crisis than it had prepared for in 2002-03. But UNHCR and other organisations are sorely lacking in funds to cope with the growing numbers of displaced.

In an effort to fill the massive gap in funding, UNHCR in January 2007 launched a US$60 million appeal to cover its protection and assistance programmes for Iraqi refugees in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt and Turkey, as well as non Iraqi refugees and internally displaced people within strife torn Iraq.

The longer the Iraq conflict goes on, the more difficult it will become for the hundreds of thousands of displaced and the communities that are trying to help them – both inside and outside Iraq. Because the burden on host communities and governments in the region is enormous, it is essential that the international community support humanitarian efforts.

Posted on 5 February 2007

Iraqi Refugees in Syria: 2,000 New Arrivals Daily

Turkey: Faysal's Flight from Kobane , SyriaPlay video

Turkey: Faysal's Flight from Kobane , Syria

More than 170,000 people have fled from the town of Kobane in northern Syria to escape a fierce offensive by ISIL militants. Faysal managed to escape to Turkey before the fighting in the cauldron of conflict intensified, but he still has some family left in the besieged town on the border.
Refugees Continue Flowing into TurkeyPlay video

Refugees Continue Flowing into Turkey

Turkey has opened borders point for Syrian Kurdish civilians fleeing clashes between ISIS militants and Kurdish forces. More than 138,000 have crossed over since Friday and more are expected.
UNHCR: Syrian Refugee numbers top three millionPlay video

UNHCR: Syrian Refugee numbers top three million

The number of refugees in Syria's intensifying crisis passes 3 million people, amid reports of horrifying conditions inside the country. Iman and her family were displaced four times inside Syria before finally seeking refuge in Lebanon.