21 Jul 2015
Uruguay will take in a new group of Syrian refugees by the end of the year, officials said Monday, adding that the country was committed to helping alleviate a humanitarian crisis.
A total of 117 family members are being relocated to Uruguay from refugee camps in Lebanon.
Part of that group already made the journey in October, and the next contingent of 72 people will arrive sometime toward the end of this year.
The resettlement had been planned last year but was cast into doubt by budgetary constraints.
“The national government will honor its commitment and not go into a humanitarian default,” said Foreign Minister Rodolfo Nin Novoa.
He stressed that Syria is “suffering a brutal humanitarian crisis” and the refugee families are “living a real hell on earth.” More than four million Syrians have fled a civil war in their country that is now well into its fifth year.
Refugee areas in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan are crowded and conditions are poor, while aid organizations say they have a serious financial shortfalls.
A small country of just 3.3 million people, Uruguay was the first Latin American nation to offer a resettlement program for Syrian refugees. Other nations have also followed suit.
Former president Jose Mujica launched the program to integrate Syrians into the country and was outspoken in his support for refugees.
Uruguay’s plans to resettle Syrian families was thrown into doubt after President Tabare Vazquez became president in March and questions were raised about the program’s expense.
Nin Nova appealed to Uruguayans to understand the difficulties the Syrians are facing and help them in relocation.