Syria’s neighbors alarmed by refugee influx, call for more aid

Syria’s neighbors alarmed by refugee influx, call for more aid

UN commissioner labels situation worst crisis since Rwanda genocide, rebukes donor countries for not doing enough

Syrian refugees walks past a makeshift market in the Zaatari refugee camp, on April 15, 2014. (AFP/Khalil Mazraawi)
Syrian refugees walks past a makeshift market in the Zaatari refugee camp, on April 15, 2014. (AFP/Khalil Mazraawi)

Senior ministers from Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq gathered at the Zaatari refugee camp in the Hashemite Kingdom on Sunday to express concern over the flow of Syrian refugees making their way to their respective countries as the civil war in Syria rages on.

The ministers held talks with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, calling for the United Nations to uphold a resolution passed in February demanding quick aid access to regions ravished by the conflict, Reuters reported.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said UN camps should be set up within Syrian territory, but blamed the regime of Bashar Assad for being an obstacle to such a solution.

“The UN system should establish camps within Syria for the internally displaced so that the refugee crisis would at least be under control,” he reportedly said, according to Reuters. “But here the barrier is the regime,” he added.

Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Joudeh said the kingdom was barely coping with the large influx of refugees.

“The pressures this is causing on resources and society are unprecedented and is stretching thin the abilities of the government to continue to provide for the refugees,” he said.

Lebanon is home to over a million Syrian refugees, while Jordan hosts some 700,00 in several camps and Turkey has taken in almost 600,000. Iraq hosts just over 200,00 refugees. These according to figures released by the UNHCR in April.

The UN also estimates that there are also 6.5 million Syrians who are internally displaced and an additional 3 million who have minimal access to basic needs.

“A crucial aspect of ending this crisis is to improve access for humanitarian aid inside Syria,” High Commissioner Antonio Guterres said.

“This is the worst catastrophic humanitarian situation we are facing, probably since the Rwanda genocide,” he added. “We are now clearly above 3 million Syrian refugees.”

The head of the UN refugee agency also rebuked donors for not doing enough to help millions of Syrian refugees and the countries hosting them, saying the crisis demanded “massive support.”

“This enormous impact is not being fully recognized by the international community,” Guterres said at the meeting

“Let me be very clear, there has been very little support,” he added during talks at the Zaatari refugee camp in northern Jordan, which is home to more than 100,000 Syrians.

“There must be massive support from the international community at the level of government budgets and development projects related to education, health, water and infrastructure.”

Guterres also called for Syria’s neighboring countries to keep receiving refugees, despite the hardships, and for country’s across the world to open their borders to them.

“It’s necessary that countries around the world, not only countries of the region, keep their borders open to Syrian refugees and facilitate access to their territories with more open policy and global responsibility,” he said.

In December, the UN appealed for around $6.5 billion (4.7 billion euros) for victims of Syria’s war, and $2.3 billion was pledged at a Kuwait donors’ conference in January.

But the officials said their 2014 plan is only 25 percent funded.

Syria’s brutal civil war has claimed the lives of over 140,000 people since it began as a a series of peaceful protests in March 2011, according to UN figures.

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