UNHCR new call for resettlement or other forms of admission for 100,000 Syrians

Briefing Notes, 21 February 2014

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Dan McNorton to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 21 February 2014, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

UNHCR is today calling upon states to make multi-annual commitments towards a goal of providing resettlement and other forms of admission for an additional 100,000 Syrian refugees in 2015 and 2016.

UNHCR has earlier called upon states to provide solutions for 30,000 of the most vulnerable Syrian refugees through resettlement or other forms of admission by the end of 2014. To date, 20 countries have offered more than 18,800 places towards this goal. UNHCR remains confident that the 30,000 goal will be met by the end of the year through a significant number of submissions to the United States of America.

UNHCR anticipates that in the coming years, there will be increasing numbers of vulnerable Syrian refugees who will be in need of resettlement, relocation, or other forms of humanitarian admission. In light of the growing needs of the Syrian refugee population, the goal of 30,000 in 2014 represents only the first benchmark in securing solutions for this group.

As part of the emergency response, UNHCR is urging states to consider a number of solutions that can provide secure, urgent and effective protection for these people. Such solutions could include resettlement, humanitarian admission, or individual sponsorship.

States could also offer other kinds of solutions: they could develop programmes that enable Syrian relatives to join family members. They could create scholarships for Syrian students in order to prevent a "lost generation" of young people. They could also offer medical evacuation for refugees with serious health conditions that require life-saving treatment.

We appeal to the international community to continue providing longer-term solutions for Syrian refugees who are most urgently in need.

There are currently over 2.4 million refugees registered in the region. In Lebanon there are some 932,000, Jordan some 574,000, Turkey some 613,000, Iraq some 223,000 and Egypt some 134,000 refugees.

For more information on this topic, please contact:

  • In Amman, Peter Kessler on mobile +962 79 631 7901
  • In Geneva: Dan McNorton on mobile +41 79 217 3011
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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

A Teenager in Exile

Like fathers and sons everywhere, Fewaz and Malak sometimes struggle to coexist. A new haircut and a sly cigarette are all it takes to raise tensions in the cramped apartment they currently call home. But, despite this, a powerful bond holds them together: refugees from Syria, they have been stranded for almost a year in an impoverished neighbourhood of Athens.

They fled their home with the rest of the family in the summer of 2012, after war threw their previously peaceful life into turmoil. From Turkey, they made several perilous attempts to enter Greece.

Thirteen-year-old Malak was the first to make it through the Evros border crossing. But Fewaz, his wife and their two other children were not so lucky at sea, spending their life savings on treacherous voyages on the Mediterranean only to be turned back by the Greek coastguard.

Finally, on their sixth attempt, the rest of the family crossed over at Evros. While his wife and two children travelled on to Germany, Fewaz headed to Athens to be reunited with Malak.

"When I finally saw my dad in Athens, I was so happy that words can't describe," says Malak. However, the teenager is haunted by the possibility of losing his father again. "I am afraid that if my dad is taken, what will I do without him?"

Until the family can be reunited, Malak and his father are determined to stick together. The boy is learning to get by in Greek. And Fewaz is starting to get used to his son's haircut.

A Teenager in Exile

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