United States Pledges Increased Aid for Syrian Refugees, Additional Steps Needed
New York City – Human Rights First welcomed the Obama Administration's pledge of an additional $507 million in humanitarian assistance for Syrians, made at an international pledging conference in Kuwait today. The organization urged the administration to redouble efforts to support front-line states by increasing refugee resettlement to the United States and pressing Syria’s neighbors – and other states - to allow refugees to cross borders to safety.
“The United States continues to lead in providing much needed humanitarian aid and assistance to the victims of the Syria conflict,” said Human Rights First’s Eleanor Acer, who was in the region earlier this year. “While increased aid is essential, it will not be enough to provide stability to the front-line states that are facing increasing strains as they struggle to host large numbers of Syrian refugees from a conflict that is now in its fifth year. The United States should also lead a major global initiative to resettle more Syrian refugees outside of the region, and should call on other countries to significantly increase their resettlement commitments as well.”
Since the beginning of the conflict in Syria, approximately 12 million people – half of Syria’s population – have been displaced, and nearly 4 million of these refugees have escaped across borders into Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq, and Egypt. These states together are estimated to host about 95 percent of Syrian refugees. Since the start of the conflict four years ago, the United States has resettled only about 500 Syrian refugees; it aims to review for potential resettlement only 1000 cases per month. In recent months Turkey, Jordan, and Lebanon have either closed or imposed barriers at their borders that often block refugees from fleeing the violence and terror in Syria.
Human Rights First continues to urge the United States to monitor access to protection for refugees at borders and encourage Syria’s neighbors to provide full access to UNHCR to monitor all border areas, processing centers, and interviews with those fleeing Syria.
This week, Refugee Council USA (RCUSA), a coalition that includes Human Rights First, issued a new report that details findings of a recent research trip to Jordan and Egypt to investigate challenges facing Syrian and other refugees. Human Rights First’s Eleanor Acer, along with representatives of other RCUSA organizations, joined that research trip. The report, “At the Breaking Point: Refugees in Jordan and Egypt,” recommends that the United States resettle at least 65,000 Syrian refugees by the end of 2016 and urges U.S. officials to call on states to allow refugees to cross their borders in order to access international protection.
For more information or to speak with Acer, contact Mary Elizabeth Margolis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 212-845-5269.