UNHCR joins call in Turkey for solidarity with countries hosting Syrian refugees

News Stories, 17 January 2014

© UNHCR/E. Argunhan
Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and High Commissioner António Guterres meet Syrian refugee children.

HARRAN-KÖKENLI REFUGEE CAMP, Turkey, January 17 (UNHCR) UNHCR on Friday joined top officials from Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt in calling on the international community to boost solidarity with countries hosting the bulk of the refugees fleeing the conflict in Syria.

The appeal came in a joint statement released during a tour of the Harran-Kökenli refugee camp in south-eastern Turkey, which currently provides shelter to 14,000 Syrian refugees. Those taking part included UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres, Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, Jordan's Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Ibrahim Saif, Egyptian Deputy Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs Randa Labib and Lebanon's refugee coordinator, Makram Malaeb.

In their statement, they also deplored the extent of human suffering caused by the Syria crisis, its destabilizing impact on the entire region, and the threat it poses to global peace and security. They reiterated that the refugee influx was a result of the humanitarian tragedy in Syria, and underlined that unless stability and security was reestablished, a solution would remain elusive.

"It is clear that there can be no military solution to the conflict. The solution must be political," the joint statement said. "We therefore appeal to all parties to the conflict to put their differences aside and come together for the Geneva II conference on January 22, where some real steps must be taken towards finding a political solution and putting an end to the fighting."

It further declared that "Geneva II cannot be indifferent to the humanitarian dimension of the Syrian conflict and dramatic suffering of the Syrian people. Conditions must be created for humanitarian agencies to have unimpeded access to all the victims of the conflict, independently of their location inside Syria."

The statement also reiterated calls made last October at a UNHCR-led international gathering in Geneva for more financial aid and solidarity to help ease the burden on neighbouring states.

The ministers and UNHCR encouraged other countries to keep their borders open for Syrians seeking protection, to further enhance resettlement and humanitarian admission programmes for refugees, and introduce more flexible family reunification procedures and visa requirements for Syrians. In addition, UNHCR has called for a global moratorium on returns of Syrians to Syria and to countries in the region hosting the vast majority of refugees.

There are now more than 2.3 million registered Syrian refugees in the region, including some 869,000 in Lebanon, 600,000 in Jordan, 582,000 in Turkey, 213,000 in Iraq and over 132,000 in Egypt. Governments estimate actual numbers to be much higher. In addition, an estimated total of 6.5 million people are displaced inside Syria.

Read the related press release
• DONATE NOW •

 

• GET INVOLVED • • STAY INFORMED •

UNHCR country pages

Thousands of desperate Syrian refugees seek safety in Turkey after outbreak of fresh fighting

Renewed fighting in northern Syria since June 3 has sent a further 23,135 refugees fleeing across the border into Turkey's southern Sanliurfa province. Some 70 per cent of these are women and children, according to information received by UNHCR this week.

Most of the new arrivals are Syrians escaping fighting between rival military forces in and around the key border town of Tel Abyad, which faces Akcakale across the border. They join some 1.77 million Syrian refugees already in Turkey.

However, the influx also includes so far 2,183 Iraqis from the cities of Mosul, Ramadi and Falujjah.

According to UNHCR field staff most of the refugees are exhausted and arrive carrying just a few belongings. Some have walked for days. In recent days, people have fled directly to Akcakale to escape fighting in Tel Abyad which is currently reported to be calm.

Thousands of desperate Syrian refugees seek safety in Turkey after outbreak of fresh fighting

Cold, Uncomfortable and Hungry in Calais

For years, migrants and asylum-seekers have flocked to the northern French port of Calais in hopes of crossing the short stretch of sea to find work and a better life in England. This hope drives many to endure squalid, miserable conditions in makeshift camps, lack of food and freezing temperatures. Some stay for months waiting for an opportunity to stow away on a vehicle making the ferry crossing.

Many of the town's temporary inhabitants are fleeing persecution or conflict in countries such as Afghanistan, Eritrea, Iraq, Sudan and Syria. And although these people are entitled to seek asylum in France, the country's lack of accommodation, administrative hurdles and language barrier, compel many to travel on to England where many already have family waiting.

With the arrival of winter, the crisis in Calais intensifies. To help address the problem, French authorities have opened a day centre as well as housing facilities for women and children. UNHCR is concerned with respect to the situation of male migrants who will remain without shelter solutions. Photographer Julien Pebrel recently went to Calais to document their lives in dire sites such as the Vandamme squat and next to the Tioxide factory.

Cold, Uncomfortable and Hungry in Calais

Abdu finds his voice in Germany

When bombs started raining down on Aleppo, Syria, in 2012, the Khawan family had to flee. According to Ahmad, the husband of Najwa and father of their two children, the town was in ruins within 24 hours.

The family fled to Lebanon where they shared a small flat with Ahmad's two brothers and sisters and their children. Ahmad found sporadic work which kept them going, but he knew that in Lebanon his six-year-old son, Abdu, who was born deaf, would have little chance for help.

The family was accepted by Germany's Humanitarian Assistance Programme and resettled into the small central German town of Wächtersbach, near Frankfurt am Main. Nestled in a valley between two mountain ranges and a forest, the village has an idyllic feel.

A year on, Abdu has undergone cochlear implant surgery for the second time. He now sports two new hearing aids which, when worn together, allow him to hear 90 per cent. He has also joined a regular nursery class, where he is learning for the first time to speak - German in school and now Arabic at home. Ahmed is likewise studying German in a nearby village, and in two months he will graduate with a language certificate and start looking for work. He says that he is proud at how quickly Abdu is learning and integrating.

Abdu finds his voice in Germany

Serbia: Overstretched BordersPlay video

Serbia: Overstretched Borders

As Hungary builds a fence on its border with Serbia, the situation at the border between the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Greece is increasingly precarious. Refugees in Serbia on their way to Hungry fear the tighter measures and say they wouldn't have fled home had they not been forced to do it by the war.
Saving Diana: A Syrian Refugee With Special NeedsPlay video

Saving Diana: A Syrian Refugee With Special Needs

Ten year old Diana was born in Syria with a severe form of Cerebral Palsy. For nearly a month, she traveled with her mother and brother across deserts and sea in search of safety in Europe.
To Turkey from Kobani, Syria: Ivra's Story Play video

To Turkey from Kobani, Syria: Ivra's Story

As Syrian refugee numbers surpass 4 million, many families and bright young people in camps across the region wonder about their future prospects. Ivra is 13 years old, she had a great life back home in Kobani, Syria. She was a top student who loved sports and reading English literature. One day the conflict reached her school and home and changed her life forever. The fluent English speaker is now one of many refugees who fled to Turkey. She lives in the country's biggest refugee camp.