Oxfam Ireland reaction: No. of Syrian refugees now more than 5 million

Oxfam Ireland reaction: No. of Syrian refugees now more than 5 million

Staggering statistic is bigger than entire Republic of Ireland population

Thursday March 30th, 2017

Following today’s announcement by the UN that the number of Syrian refugees has now passed the five million mark, Oxfam and three Syrian organisations called on a meeting of the international community in Brussels next week to recommit support to Syrians forced to flee their homes.

More than five million Syrians – or a quarter of the country’s pre-war population – have crossed the border in search of safety and registered as refugees in neighbouring countries since 2011. When broken down that is an average of 2,500 people crossing the border every day for the past five years.

Oxfam Ireland’s Chief Executive Jim Clarken said: “A staggering five million Syrians are now refugees – more people than the entire population of the Republic of Ireland. Yet some of the richest countries in the world are turning their backs on Syrians forced to flee from bloodshed.

“Millions of people are stuck between the rock that their country has become and the hard place that exile offers them. Despite attempts to seal Syria’s borders, this sad milestone shows how desperate people are to flee the violence and persecution in the country.

“The international community must show their support for Syria’s neighbouring countries that have welcomed these refugees and rich countries should resettle at a minimum the most vulnerable 10 percent of Syrian refugees by the end of 2017.”

Dr. Abdolsalam Daif, Turkey Country Director for Syria Relief and Development (SRD), said: “Syria, a country rich with history and traditions, is haemorrhaging its population, its medical workers, engineers, teachers, farmers. If the world doesn’t act immediately to pressure warring parties to stop the bloodshed, protect civilians, and give Syrians a chance to return home and rebuild their lives in a country at peace, we will have lost all our humanity.”

Dr. Ahmed Tarakji, Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) President, said: “When people talk about refugees, they imagine UN run camps. The reality is only 10 percent of Syrian refugees live in camps. The overwhelming majority are in informal settlements established on agricultural land in Lebanon, in cramped flats in Jordan, and in housing with basic necessities in Turkey. They need jobs, education and healthcare. They need to be able to access services and markets, to contribute to the communities hosting them, and not strain overstretched societies. This can only happen if we all – donors, local authorities, national and international humanitarian agencies – step up our joint efforts.”

Though Syria’s neighbours have further restricted their borders since 2015, the relentless fighting and dim hopes of peace continue to force Syrians out of their war-torn country, either by being smuggled into Lebanon at the risk of their own lives, or living in limbo in makeshift camps at the Turkey and Jordan borders with little to no humanitarian aid available.

Oxfam is providing clean water to conflict affected populations in Syria through the rehabilitation of water infrastructure, water trucking and repairing of wells. It is working in Lebanon and Jordan to bring Syrian refugees clean drinking water, cash and relief supplies. Oxfam also helps families get the information they need about their rights and connects them to special services such as legal aid, as well as implementing programmes in sanitation and livelihoods. It has so far helped more than two million people across Syria, Jordan and Lebanon.

Organisations such as SAMS and SAWA for Aid and Development (SAID, Sawa Foundation) are providing support to refugees in Syria’s neighbouring countries. SAMS organises medical and surgical missions to the region to provide healthcare to Syrians. They also support psychosocial programmes, such as art and play therapy, treatment of anxiety and speech disorders in children, as well as the psychological wounds of victims of arrest and torture.

SAID aims to improve the living conditions of refugees in need in Lebanon by providing them with material, logistical and psychological support and helping them become self sustainable and independent. Sawa is present in 16 informal settlements in Lebanon and fully supports 20,000 refugees.

SRD provides health care, shelter and protection services, food and non-food items, and higher education to people inside Syria. The organisation has distributed over $34 million worth of aid to over two million Syrians to date.


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