For Immediate Release: August 27, 2012
Washington, DC – Human Rights First today stressed the importance of neighboring countries offering protection and shelter to refugees forced to flee the violence spreading throughout Syria. The organization notes that the number of refugees fleeing Syria has now topped 200,000.
On Sunday, Turkish authorities reportedly stopped refugees from entering Turkey at two key border crossings. A reported 9,000 Syrians were left stranded on the Syrian side of the border while efforts were made to find space for them in the Turkish camps. According to the UN Refugee Agency, Turkey already hosts at least 78,409 refugees and has indicated that it may struggle to host more than 100,000.
“With no signs of a resolution to the Syrian crisis in sight, it is critical that Syria’s neighbors continue to keep their borders open to provide protection to those fleeing the violence in accordance with international law,” said Human Rights First’s Duncan Breen.
In response to the high levels of violence targeting Syrian civilians, U.S. officials are reportedly debating measures to increase protection for Syrians inside their home country, including the possible creation of safe zones in the northern part of the country.
“Any efforts to increase the protection of Syrians inside Syria should not replace open borders for refugees seeking safety in neighboring states,” cautioned Breen. “In this time of crisis, it is essential that nations bordering Syria work to accommodate those fleeing for their safety.”
The United States has provided almost $82 million in aid to assist those affected by the crisis. In addition, the United States has provided direct financial assistance to Jordan, in part to support efforts to assist those fleeing from Syria.
Breen concluded, “The United States and others in the international community need to continue to provide humanitarian aid where requested in support of Turkey and Syria’s other neighbors to enable them to continue to allow refugees to flee to safety.”
For more information or to speak with Breen, please contact Brenda Bowser Soder at email@example.com or 202-370-3323.