06 Feb 2015
Hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees who fled the conflict have been struggling to survive in Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq, according to a new report released by Amnesty International. The rights body urged wealthy nations on Wednesday to come forward and accept vulnerable refugees in light of an international obligation as set out in the 1951 Refugee Convention. Kate Allen, the UK director of Amnesty, said that so far, wealthy countries have only offered 79,180 resettlement places. “Around 380,000 refugees have been identified as vulnerable and [are] in need of resettlement by UNHCR, including torture survivors and unaccompanied children.” In January 2014, British PM David Cameron assured parliament that the UK would act “with the greatest urgency” in offering the “most needy people” in Syrian refugee camps a “home in our country”. UNHCR has estimated that more than 95 percent of 3.8 million Syrian refugees are being hosted by just five countries: Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt. “How can we expect Jordan and Lebanon to keep their borders open when our response is so pitiful?” Allen said. According to Amnesty, 1.7 million refugee children from Syria are at risk of becoming a “lost generation” unless they are resettled. Currently in Lebanon, one person in five is now a Syrian refugee, impacting all aspects of Lebanese life. The report titled Hardship, Hope and Resettlement: Refugees From Syria Tell their Stories highlights the human face of the crisis through the stories of eight families, as they negotiate refugee life with limited funds, and medical and housing resources. Nadia, one of the mothers featured in the briefing, talks of her fear that the opportunities for her 14-year-old son will be permanently impacted as, like many young refugees, he struggles to continue his education. “School is very far. My son goes by bus. Sometimes I don’t even have the money for him to take a bus so he stays at home. We are very poor. Sometimes we don’t have anything to eat,” she told Amnesty. Amnesty’s Allen said that the UK was not fulfilling its duty. “The UK should take 14,655 [Syrians] by the end of 2016 based on a formula taking into account wealth, population size, and unemployment rate.” The six Gulf Cooperation Council countries have offered no places to Syrian refugees since the onset of the conflict.