Reversal of UK stance on resettling refugees must inspire wider action on Syria

News
January 29, 2014

Reversal of UK stance on resettling refugees must inspire wider action on Syria

The UK government’s decision to resettle some of the most vulnerable refugees from Syria should encourage wider action on resettlement by the international community, particularly European and Gulf countries, said Amnesty International.

“The UK’s pledge to offer resettlement places to refugees from Syria is long overdue, but should be widely welcomed as a positive and important first step,” said Sherif Elsayed-Ali, Head of Refugee and Migrants’ Rights at Amnesty International.

“Syria’s deepening refugee crisis is one of the worst humanitarian disasters of our time. So far the international community is failing to meet this challenge. One way to reduce further suffering is for countries across the world to open their doors and share responsibility for the protection of refugees, which is largely shouldered by countries neighbouring Syria.”

Despite some progress on resettlement of refugees from Syria by European Union (EU) member states the number of refugees the EU has offered places to is still just a fraction of the vast number of refugees – amounting to only 0.6%. Several EU member states have yet to offer resettlement places.

The record of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states on resettlement is even more shocking: they have not offered a single resettlement to refugees from Syria.

There are now over 2.4 million refugees from Syria, the vast majority of whom have fled to neighbouring countries. With no end to the Syrian conflict in sight the crisis continues to grow. In December 2013 the UN humanitarian appeal was raised to 6.5 billion USD to meet the growing needs of refugees as well as the 6.5 million people displaced inside Syria.

“While funding to the region is crucial to helping refugees, money alone is not sufficient for a crisis of this scale and gravity. More needs be done to provide protection and safe refuge for the most vulnerable, including refugees with serious medical needs, victims of torture and sexual violence, as well as elderly people and children. Offering a meaningful number of resettlement and humanitarian admission places is essential to addressing the widespread suffering faced by refugees and can be a lifesaving measure for those most at risk,” said Sherif Elsayed-Ali.