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Muslim states seek UN action on flood of Syrian refugees

Organization of Islamic Cooperation wants ‘multi-dimensional UN operation’ in war-torn country, more effort to end conflict

A handout picture released by the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) on September 13, 2015 shows Syrian children gathering in a playground on the first day of the new school year in the capital Damascus. The Organizarion of Islamic Cooperation called on the UN to create a peacekeeping force that would stem the surge of Syrian refugees. (Ho/SANA/AFP)
A handout picture released by the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) on September 13, 2015 shows Syrian children gathering in a playground on the first day of the new school year in the capital Damascus. The Organizarion of Islamic Cooperation called on the UN to create a peacekeeping force that would stem the surge of Syrian refugees. (Ho/SANA/AFP)

JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia — The United Nations should consider a peacekeeping force for war-ravaged Syria to help curb the surge of refugees which is destabilizing the region and beyond, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation said Sunday.

An emergency meeting of the 57-member group called on the UN Security Council to urgently consider creating “a multi-dimensional UN peacekeeping operation in Syria as a prelude to restoring security and stability in the country.”

It also called for more to be done to find a rapid political solution to the Syrian conflict.

The OIC, which calls itself the collective voice of the Muslim world, blamed the humanitarian crisis on “the war crimes committed by the regime in Syria.”

Refugees get out of a special train coming from Munich upon arrival at the railway station in Berlin Schoenefeld on September 13, 2015. Around 700 migrants were sent from Munich as the Bavarian city is at the limit of its capacity to welcome refugees arriving en masse in Germany, police warned Sunday, a day after 13,000 asylum-seekers reached the city. (Axel Schmidt/AFP)
Refugees get out of a special train coming from Munich upon arrival at the railway station in Berlin Schoenefeld on September 13, 2015. (Axel Schmidt/AFP)

More than four million Syrians have fled their country where President Bashar Assad is battling various rebels, including the Islamic State group, which has carried out widespread atrocities.

The migration from Syria has created a crisis in Europe, where Germany alone is expected to receive 800,000 asylum-seekers from Syria and elsewhere this year.

“The meeting stressed the common responsibility of all nations, particularly OIC member states, to open their doors to the Syrian refugees as a mark of Islamic compassion and solidarity,” a closing statement from the meeting said.

The OIC noted that more than half of its member states are not signatories to the UN Convention on Refugees, and urged them to sign.

No Gulf state has acceded to the convention which sets standards for the treatment and rights of those fleeing to a new country.

Gulf Arab states have been among the most ardent opponents of Assad, providing funds and weapons for rebel groups fighting him.

At the same time, Saudi Arabia and its neighbors last year joined a US-led military coalition bombing IS extremists in Syria.

The OIC further “urged all countries to refrain from extending military support to the Assad regime.”

That call comes as Washington accuses Moscow of a military build-up in Syria, where Russia has backed Assad against the uprising of more than four years. Moscow said Sunday that it would continue to support the Assad regime in its fight against the Islamic State group.

The OIC said Syria’s neighbors who have taken refugees have borne “a huge portion” of the humanitarian burden and the international community should give them more support. Lebanon, with a native population of 4.4 million, has taken in 1.1 million refugees, while Turkey is playing host to close to 2 million people who fled Syria.

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