Geneva crisis meeting agrees to expand international support for countries hosting Syrian refugees
A high-level meeting in Geneva on the humanitarian crisis spawned by Syria's two-and-a-half year old conflict ended today with agreement on urgent international action to mitigate the economic and social impact on neighbouring countries struggling under the weight of more than two million Syrian refugees.
In a joint statement, member states of UNHCR's Executive Committee said they were alarmed at the situation inside Syria which is driving so many Syrians to flee. They acknowledged the profound impact this was having on refugee-hosting communities, economies, societies, services, infrastructure, environment and security in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, and Egypt. They commended their exemplary generosity and hospitality and their significant investment in hosting Syrian refugees.
They acknowledged international aid to these countries has been vastly insufficient in comparison with the needs, and called for massive support to enable them to continue hosting so many refugees, namely:
-Direct aid to governments;
-Financial and in-kind help to refugee populations and the communities hosting them;
-Assistance for economies, societies, services, infrastructure, environment and security;
-Enhanced resettlement, humanitarian admissions and family reunification possibilities for Syrian refugees in third countries;
-Development initiatives and projects to help host communities to ease the economic and social costs of hosting Syrian refugees.
The High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, welcomed pledges by a number of countries for resettlement or humanitarian admission of over 10,000 highly vulnerable Syrian refugees. The High Commissioner called on all countries, particularly in Europe and in the extended Middle East to allow access to asylum and to introduce more generous resettlement schemes. He also hailed expanded initiatives by international development actors and financial institutions to bolster over-stretched public services and fragile infrastructures benefiting both host communities and refugees.
The Geneva meeting was attended by government representatives from some 135 states, 2 observer entities, 7 intergovernmental organizations, 3 other entities, the World Bank, 9 United Nations organizations (FAO, UNICEF, UNDP, UNESCO, UNITAR, UNFPA. OCHA, UNRWA and WFP), 29 Non-Governmental Organizations as well as UNHCR's Eminent Advocate Sheikha Jawaher Bint Mohammed Al Qasimi of Sharjah (UAE) and 10 other guests and representatives.
Among those present from the region surrounding Syria were the foreign ministers of Iraq, Minister of External Relations of the Kurdistan region of Iraq, Jordan, Turkey, the Social Affairs Minister of Lebanon, and the Assistant Foreign Minister of Egypt.
Syria's conflict, which began in March 2011, has produced one of the most dramatic and rapid forced displacement situations in decades. Today an estimated 4.25 million people are internally displaced in Syria, while as of this past weekend 2,123,971 people had either registered as refugees or were pending registration in the surrounding region. Currently, the UN's Regional Response Plan for 2013, which aims at addressing the humanitarian needs in the refugee hosting countries, is 47 per cent funded.
The full statement of the High-Level Segment of the Executive Committee of the High Commissioner's Programme on Solidarity and Burden-Sharing with countries hosting Syrian Refugees can be found here http://www.unhcr.org/524a87659.html.
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