NGOs urge countries to take in Syrian refugees


0,,18104780_403,00 Deutsche Welle – Thirty non-governmental organizations have urged nations distant from Syria’s borders to provide long-term sanctuary for at least 180,000 highly endangered refugees. Syria’s neighbors are already sheltering 3.6 million. Ahead of a United Nations donors’ conference in Geneva, 30 non-governmental organizations, including Save the Children and Islamic Relief, have urged the world to take in a minimum of five percent or 180,000 of those displaced by Syria’s civil-war. Currently, the international community has provided unlimited safe refuge for less than two percent of Syria’s displaced, according the NGOs’ calculations. In their joint plea, the NGOs said that Syria’s neighbors, notably Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, had shown “great generosity” in providing shelter. Iraq, too, was sheltering 225,000, they said, while also trying to cope with its own citizens displaced by conflict, especially from areas seized in Syria and western Iraq by the”Islamic State” jihadist group. Strained to the limit Because of such displacements, the neighboring nations’ infrastructures and social networks were strained to the limit, said NGO alliance, which also includes World Vision, Handicap International and Amnesty International. Their call included appeals to Gulf Arab states and Latin America to do more. Ailing children stuck in the region without treatment would die unless rescued, warned Kathrin Wieland of Germany’s branch of Save the Children. They simply could not survive. “Financial pledges for humanitarian programs are in themselves not sufficient,” Wieland said. “The wealthy nations of the world must take on responsibility and provide Syrian refugees with protection and support that Syria’s neighbors can no longer provide,” she said. Worst refugee crisis since WWII “This is the worst refugee crisis since the Second World War, that has driven millions of people, notably women and children from their homeland,” said Robert Lindner, Syria expert for Oxfam’s branch in Germany. “We are counting on the governments that meet [on Monday] in Geneva,” Lindner said. “They must show the internationally solidarity that is now so urgently needed.” The NGOs said sanctuary for the 180,000 minimum should especially focus on survivors of torture, persons with acute medical conditions, children fleeing alone and especially endangered women. The general secretary of the Germany-Luxembourg division of CARE, Karl-Otto Zental said assistance from wealthy nations would relieve Syria’s neighbors which had begun tightening refugee influxes at their borders. “As a result, Syrian civilians can no longer escape the brutal civil war,” Zental said. Not being a neighbor did not excuse other nations of responsibility, he added. On Friday, London-based Amnesty said wealthy nations had only taken in a “pitiful” number of refugees, noting that Gulf states, Russia and China, had not offered a single resettlement place. Many innovative solutions The 30 NGOs said in their appeal that there were “many additional innovative ways” to assist Syrian refugees, including student placements at university and job permits. Endorsement came on Sunday from Erik Schweitzer, the president of the German DIHK chamber of industry and commerce, who said German firms were keen to recruit well-trained asylum-seekers. “We should provide a perspective for refugees who find sanctuary in our country,” he told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper. Provide jobs, says German employers Employers’ association president Ingo Kramer said the German parliament’s recent easing of asylum rules did not go far enough. Asylum-seekers should be allowed to take on a job, even without the current check to see if suitable German or EU citizens were available, he said. Kramer sharply criticised what he described as anti-foreigner sentiment in Germany. “When people go out on the street and protest against immigration and propagate resentment they damage our country. That is humanly insensible and economically harmful,” Kramer said. Last month, Germany’s interior minister, Thomas de Maiziere, said the country should expect higher numbers of refugees. Ease visa rules, says Pro Asyl The Frankfurt-based organization Pro Asyl or Pro-Asylum demanded that Berlin ease visa entry rules for Iraqi and Syrian refugees who already had relatives living in Germany. “This would be a signal to [Syria’s] neighbors, who are increasingly inclined to close their borders to refugees,” said Pro Asyl’s director Günter Bunkhardt. Dublin system collapsing? The interior minister of Germany’s southern state of Bavaria, Joachim Herrmann, said the EU’s so-called “Dublin system,” whereby asylum-seekers are supposed to apply in the first EU country they enter, no longer worked. Many new arrivees traveled on and sought asylum in another country, said Herrmann while demanding that the EU set fixed quotas to distribute refugees across Europe. Read more:

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