Warning that 1.3 million refugees from Syria in dire need
Neighbouring countries Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq feeling strain.
It is vital that the international community does more to help the increasing number of refugees pouring across borders as they flee the violence in Syria, said Amnesty International in a new briefing published today.
To escape the ongoing bloodshed and violence at home, those fleeing have sought safety in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq, with many living in extremely difficult conditions. All four countries say that the long-term hosting of refugees is putting a strain on resources, as increasing numbers of Syrians and others try to reach the relative safety of refugee camps and elsewhere in neighbouring countries.
In February Amnesty visited three provinces in Turkey bordering Syria and conducted interviews with refugees, the Turkish authorities, and a number of national and international organisations. Despite Turkey’s stated “open door policy”, many refugees attempting to cross into the country have been stopped, leaving people stranded inside Syria in terrible conditions. Credible reports have emerged of other refugees being forced to return to Syria.
Amnesty International refugee researcher Charlotte Phillips said:
“The responsibility to protect and assist refugees from Syria needs to be shouldered by both the international community and neighbouring countries.
“In the face of this mounting crisis, the international community must act now to provide badly needed financial and technical assistance in order to support the efforts made by Syria’s neighbouring countries.
“While Turkey hosts and assists almost 200,000 refugees in government-run refugee camps, steps need to be taken to ensure that refugees living outside camps have access to essential services.
“Neighbouring countries must keep their borders open to all refugees fleeing Syria, without discrimination. Under no circumstances should people be forcibly returned to Syria, where there continues to be violence, bloodshed and human rights abuses on a massive scale.”
Turkey - according to UNHCR on 17 April, some 291,996 individuals from Syria were hosted in Turkey, an increase of almost a third since the start of 2013. However, the Turkish authorities estimate the number is 400,000, of whom approximately 190,000 are accommodated in 17 government-run refugee camps in eight provinces
Jordan - according to UNHCR on 21 April, there were 437,205 Syrian refugees registered or waiting to be registered. Amnesty has raised concerns over reports of the return of some individuals seeking refuge in Jordan and denial of entry to the country to others. Violent protests have been reported as refugees have demonstrated against poor conditions in refugee camps
Lebanon - as of 18 April, 428,649 Syrians were registered or were awaiting registration as refugees. On 20 April a Lebanese minister stated that the country had “exceeded its ability to absorb them”.
Iraq - according to the UNHCR on 20 April, 133,840 refugees were registered in Iraq, with the majority hosted in the Kurdish region. Domiz refugee camp, located in the Dohuk governorate of the Kurdish region, is said to be “critically congested” with cases of 15 or more refugees having to share one tent.