Obama Urged to Commit to Increasing Efforts to Address Refugee Crisis at Syria Donors Conference

New York City – Human Rights First today called on President Obama to use his participation in the Syria Donors Conference on Thursday in London to publicly commit to leading a comprehensive global initiative than can improve protection for refugees. The president should commit to increasing development aid to front-line refugee hosting countries, stepping up the U.S. commitment to resettle refugees, and championing the right of refugees to work and to cross borders to secure protection.

“As the six-year anniversary of the Syria conflict approaches, Syrian refugees have lost hope in the international community. They are struggling to survive in the face of aid cuts, often prohibited from working to support their families in front-line refugee hosting states. Many are choosing the dangerous journey to Europe because they believe there is no other hope of survival for their children,” said Human Rights First’s Eleanor Acer, who recently returned from a fact-finding trip to Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. “This crisis will not be resolved without strong and principled leadership from the United States, which has long been the world leader in refugee resettlement. The United States should lead by example by significantly increasing its resettlement efforts as well as committing to increase development investment in refugee-hosting communities. A greater U.S. commitment will help spur other states to step up their commitments as well.

Co-hosted by the United Kingdom, Germany, Kuwait, and the United Nations, the Syrian Donors Conference will bring together world leaders to raise new funding and to discuss solutions to address the global refugee crisis and support frontline states. Since the beginning of the conflict in Syria, the United States has resettled less than 2,600 Syrian refugees and has committed only to resettle “at least 10,000” Syrian refugees in fiscal year 2016.

Syrian border states, including Lebanon, Turkey, and Jordan, continue to host the majority of the more than 4 million Syrians who have fled horrific violence and conflict in their country. Many of these refugees have been stranded for years without the ability to work to support their families, with little access to education and a lack of the level of basic humanitarian assistance they need. Faced with insufficient humanitarian, development and resettlement support, these countries have implemented border restrictions that have effectively closed the border for refugees, leaving many trapped within Syria or forced to take dangerous journeys in search of safety.

“President Obama should raise concerns over border closures that are leaving refugees in danger and should champion the right of refugees to escape across borders to safety, a principle enshrined in international law after World War II.” added Acer. “By significantly increasing its commitment to host Syrian refugees, the United States will not only help safeguard this principle, it will save the lives of many Syrians and protect its own national security interests by supporting the stability of front-line refugee hosting states like Jordan.”

Press

Published on February 1, 2016

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