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Antakya/Washington, DC – With reports of a chemical attack in Syria, and an intervention by Western and Arab nations now looming, Refugees International (RI) is deeply concerned about the impact that any military escalation could have on displaced Syrians across the region. RI therefore urges Syria’s neighbors to commit to an open-border policy for Syrian refugees regardless of any future hostilities. RI also calls upon the United States, European Union, and other major donors to provide all necessary humanitarian support to these front-line states.
In recent months, countries across the region have introduced restrictions aimed at slowing or limiting the arrival of Syrian refugees. The Lebanese government now requires Syrians to pay $200 a year in order to maintain legal status, forcing many families underground and countless others out of the country. Following the recent arrival of roughly 30,000 Syrians in just five days, Iraq reportedly set a daily entry quota limiting the number of refugees who can cross its border. And in Turkey, the rate at which Syrians are being processed and moved into refugee camps has slowed, leaving thousands stuck in squalid and unsafe camps on the Syrian side of the border.
“The ultimate effect of these policies is that fewer Syrians can escape the terrible violence engulfing their country,” said RI Senior Advocate Daryl Grisgraber in southern Turkey. “As the Syrian conflict worsens, it is absolutely vital that Syria’s neighbors keep their borders open to refugees and do not pressure them to return. If the international community does not deliver the necessary funding, however, host countries are virtually guaranteed to impose more restrictions as the situation deteriorates.”
Host governments, local communities, and Syrian refugees across the region are increasingly frustrated by the inadequate international humanitarian response – especially in the areas of health and shelter. While a lack of resources remains a problem, donors, the UN, and humanitarian agencies are also grappling with serious coordination, policy, and refugee outreach problems that could be fixed at little financial cost.
“The scale and severity of the Syrian refugee crisis has overwhelmed all actors working on the ground, and they are still playing catch-up instead of anticipating and planning for the new phase of this emergency,” said RI Senior Advocate Marc Hanson. “Humanitarians must work with governments and local authorities to redouble their efforts, while donors will have to show more focus both financially and diplomatically.”
Refugees International is a non-profit organization that advocates for life-saving protection for displaced and stateless people worldwide and accepts no government or UN funding. For more information, visit www.refugeesinternational.org.
Michael Boyce +1 202 361 6131, firstname.lastname@example.org