No room at the inn for Syria's refugees
It’s less than a month until Christmas but it looks like there’s no room at the inn for Syrian refugees in the UK. New figures released by the government today show that the UK has resettled just 90 out of at least 3.5 million refugees from the conflict.
The vast majority of Syrian refugees are living in desperate conditions on Syria’s borders. In Lebanon for example, Syrian refugees make up more than a quarter of the population of the country. Turkey is now ‘home’ to 1.6 million – nearing half of the total number of refugees from the conflict.
Earlier this month, Amnesty published a report Struggling to Survive: Refugees from Syria in Turkey which found the failure of the international community to deal with the growing number of refugees in Turkey alone – 1.6 million - has led to a crisis of unprecedented proportions. They are facing push-backs and live fire at the border, and hundreds of thousands are living in destitution.
The pressure on Syria’s border countries is immense and the flow of refugees shows no sign of diminishing as the conflict enters new and ever more deadly dimensions. It is now into its fourth year and it is still destroying millions of lives.
The UK has a proud history of offering sanctuary to those fleeing war and persecution but the figures published today show the government cannot hold its head high when it comes to resettling Syrian refugees. On December 9, there will be a UN conference in Geneva at which rich countries like the UK will be asked to pledge to resettle more refugees.
Amnesty UK along with other charities, including the Refugee Council and Save the Children UK, have written to David Cameron to call for the UK to take this opportunity to step up to the mark and promise that the UK will take its fair share of refugees - up to 10,000 by the end of next year.
The letter, published in full in the Independent today, calls the number resettled so far ‘woefully inadequate’ compared with the scale of the crisis.
“Britain prides itself on a tradition of offering help to those in need. Over the years we have offered refuge to thousands at risk from war or oppression, reaching out to Vietnamese, Ugandan Asians and Kosovars to offer them a home.
“Figures released today will show that Britain has only so far resettled around 100 Syrian refugees, a woefully inadequate number compared to the scale of the crisis.
"While we applaud Britain’s generous aid contribution to the crisis, it is clear that aid alone is not enough. Syria’s neighbours are struggling under the weight of this unprecedented crisis and it is time we stopped asking of them what we are not doing ourselves.
“We are therefore calling on rich and developed countries to agree collectively to resettle at least 5% of the total Syrian refugee population by the end of 2015. This is a modest but proportionate contribution and Britain’s fair share of that would involve offering hope for up to 10,000 Syrians in that time. That’s less than 0.3% of all the refugees, but would transform, even save, lives.”
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