Rich countries under pressure to take in Syrian refugees

Rich countries under pressure to take in Syrian refugees

PanARMENIAN.Net - Pressure is mounting on the world’s rich countries to open their doors to Syrian refugees, as the war grinds on after four years and the country’s neighbors impose tighter restrictions on millions of the displaced.

According to the New York Times, a consortium of nongovernmental organizations on Monday, Dec 8, called on governments to pledge to offer refuge to at least 180,000 Syrians, or just 5 percent of all Syrian refugees. That request was made before a pledging conference scheduled to take place in Geneva on Tuesday.

The United Nations refugee agency, which is hosting the conference, estimates that among the 3.2 million registered Syrian refugees, one in 10 is unlikely to be able to go home. Among that group, the agency says, are torture victims and single women with children. The agency earlier this year urged countries around the world to take in at least 130,000 of the refugees; so far only half that number have been allowed to resettle elsewhere.

“We’re counting on governments in Geneva to move quickly to demonstrate the kind of international solidarity that is desperately needed to transform the lives of the most vulnerable refugees,” Mark Goldring, chief executive of Oxfam Great Britain, said in a statement on Monday. The statement was endorsed by groups that included ActionAid and the Norwegian Refugee Council.

Amnesty International last week sharply criticized Persian Gulf countries for failing to offer sanctuary to displaced Syrians. China and Russia, both members of the United Nations Security Council, have not agreed to resettle any of the refugees either, Amnesty International said.

An estimated three million refugees have crowded into neighboring countries — chiefly Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey — giving rise in some places to tensions in the towns and cities that host them.

Lebanon recently announced that it would allow only “exceptional” refugee cases to enter its territory. Aid agency officials in Jordan say the refugee influx there has slowed down.

The problems for refugees in those neighboring countries are likely to be compounded in the coming weeks. The World Food Program announced last week that a severe financing shortfall had forced it to cut food aid. As a result, 1.7 million Syrians would not receive vouchers with which to buy food, raising the prospect of acute hunger as winter sets in.

The United States has admitted only a tiny fraction of Syrian refugees. Sweden and Germany have been among the most hospitable countries in Europe, pledging to admit several thousand.

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