Ministerial coordination meeting of major host countries for Syrian refugees in Jordan

Press Releases, 4 May 2014

Government ministers from Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Egypt together with UNHCR met today to appeal for significantly heightened efforts to address the growing human impact of the Syria crisis.

The high-level meeting was co-chaired by H.E Mr. Nasser Judeh, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, who were joined by H.E Mr. Hoshyar Zebari, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Iraq; H.E Mr. Rashid Derbas, Minister for Social Affairs of the Lebanese Republic and H.E Mr. Ahmet Davutoğlu, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey and H.E Hamdi Loza, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Arab Republic of Egypt as part of a high-level regional coordination effort between UNHCR and major refugee-hosting countries in response to the largest refugee outflow in nearly 20 years.

The Ministers and the High Commissioner for Refugees recognized that Syria has become the largest crisis of forcible displacement in the world, and that this is posing a growing threat to regional peace and security. They noted that the burden of hosting Syrian refugees has been disproportionately shouldered by the five host countries, and that many host communities have seen their own resources stretched to a breaking point.

The Ministers and the High Commissioner for Refugees reaffirmed the outcomes of a high-level meeting that took place in Turkey on 17 January at Şanlıurfa Harran Kökenli Camp in Turkey and the conference on solidarity and burden-sharing with countries hosting Syrian refugees, which took place during UNHCR's Executive Committee session in early October 2013.

The Ministers and the High Commissioner for Refugees reiterated the imperative for much higher levels of international solidarity and burden sharing to the more than 2.7 million Syrian refugees in the region and their host communities. They noted the continued need for massive international support, including increased bilateral support and financial and development assistance to help hosting countries cope with the escalating demands placed on national services and infrastructure as a result of the refugee influx. They also appealed to development actors and financial institutions to scale up their support to refugee hosting countries.

The Ministers and the High Commissioner for Refugees based on the principle of solidarity and burden sharing urged all other countries outside the region to keep their borders open for Syrians seeking protection and to facilitate their legal access to their territories. In this regard, they also called on these countries to offer more flexible visa regimes, open family reunification procedures and expanded resettlement and humanitarian admission programmes.

The Ministers and the High Commissioner for Refugees recalled the unacceptable and continued cost of war to civilians, and mourn the profound loss suffered by the Syrian people. They recalled Security Council resolution 2139 (2014), and called for its immediate and full implementation to assure the safe and unhindered delivery of humanitarian assistance to the more than nine million people who need help.

The Ministers and the High Commissioner for Refugees called for greater assistance inside Syria and underlined the need to create an environment conducive to the safe and dignified return of Syrians.

The Ministers and the High Commissioner for Refugees stressed that there is no humanitarian solution to this political crisis, and underlined the need for a political solution‎ to end the human suffering, emphasizing that there can be no military solution to the crisis in Syria.

They declared that, in the absence of a political solution, the only outcome of this continued conflict is further suffering of the Syrian people and that it is morally and politically imperative that the international community overcomes its differences and unites to put a stop to the bloodshed.

The Ministers and the High Commissioner for Refugees agreed that the protracted nature of the crisis in Syria necessitates the formulation of new and innovative approaches to address the ever-increasing challenges faced by host countries.

The Ministers and the High Commissioner for Refugees noted that the 2014 Regional Response Plan appeal is only 25% funded and urged donor countries to continue their support as the situation worsens. The US $1 billion of funding received so far has helped enable hosting countries, UNHCR and its partners to provide life-saving assistance to millions of people. They noted that the direct financial support requested for the host countries under the appeal was also underfunded.

They urged donors to fulfill pledges made at the second International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria held in Kuwait in January this year and to strongly support governments directly and their different national resilience and development plans put in place to respond to the dramatic impact of the Syria crisis on the economies and societies of neighboring States.

They expressed their gratitude to Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan for hosting this meeting and welcomed the offer by the Republic of Lebanon to host the next meeting. They declared their solidarity and support to the government of Lebanon during these exceptional times. They also expressed the need to implement programmes aimed at supporting host communities in Lebanon, Jordan.

For more information please contact:

  • Melissa Fleming, in Jordan on mission, on mobile +41 79 557 9122
  • Hélène Daubelcour, in Jordan, on mobile +962 79 889 1307
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Stateless in Beirut

Since Lebanon was established as a country in the 1920s there has been a long-standing stateless population in the country.

There are three main causes for this: the exclusion of certain persons from the latest national census of 1932; legal gaps which deny nationality to some group of individuals; and administrative hurdles that prevent parents from providing proof of the right to citizenship of their newborn children.

Furthermore, a major reason why this situation continues is that under Lebanese law, Lebanese women cannot pass on their nationality to their children, only men can; meaning a child with a stateless father and a Lebanese mother will inherit their father's statelessness.

Although exact numbers are not known, it is generally accepted that many thousands of people lack a recognized nationality in Lebanon and the problem is growing due to the conflict in Syria. Over 50,000 Syrian children have been born in Lebanon since the beginning of the conflict and with over 1 million Syrian refugees in the country this number will increase.

Registering a birth in Lebanon is very complicated and for Syrian parents can include up to five separate administrative steps, including direct contact with the Syrian government. As the first step in establishing a legal identity, failure to properly register a child's birth puts him or her at risk of statelessness and could prevent them travelling with their parents back to Syria one day.

The consequences of being stateless are devastating. Stateless people cannot obtain official identity documents, marriages are not registered and can pass their statelessness on to their children Stateless people are denied access to public healthcare facilities at the same conditions as Lebanese nationals and are unable to own or to inherit property. Without documents they are unable to legally take jobs in public administrations and benefit from social security.

Children can be prevented from enrolling in public schools and are excluded from state exams. Even when they can afford a private education, they are often unable to obtain official certification.

Stateless people are not entitled to passports so cannot travel abroad. Even movement within Lebanon is curtailed, as without documents they risk being detained for being in the country unlawfully. They also do not enjoy basic political rights as voting or running for public office.

This is the story of Walid Sheikhmouss Hussein and his family from Beirut.

Stateless in Beirut

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

Special Envoy Angelina Jolie in Iraq

The UN refugee agency's Special Envoy Angelina Jolie visited Iraq this week, meeting with Syrian refugees and internally displaced Iraqi citizens in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. She offered support to 3.3 million people uprooted by conflict in the country and highlighted their needs.

Jolie spoke to people with dramatic stories of escape, including some who walked through the night and hid by day on their road freedom. She also met women who were among the 196 ethnic Yazidis recently released by militants and now staying in the informal settlement at Khanke.

"It is shocking to see how the humanitarian situation in Iraq has deteriorated since my last visit," said Jolie. "On top of large numbers of Syrian refugees, 2 million Iraqis were displaced by violence in 2014 alone. Many of these innocent people have been uprooted multiple times as they seek safety amidst shifting frontlines."

Photos by UNHCR/Andrew McConnell

Special Envoy Angelina Jolie in Iraq

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