Thursday, February 05, 2015

A Helping Hand - Not A Shut Door

Over 100,000 men, women and children have lost their lives since March 2011. Millions have fled persecution, violence and hardship in the war-torn state, hoping to find refuge elsewhere. A report, entitled ‘Hardship, Hope and Resettlement: Refugees from Syria tell their stories,’ published by Amnesty International documents the horrors, hopes and dreams that Syrian refugees experience in their day-to-day lives. Among those in dire need of resettlement, are gravely ill or unaccompanied children, rape and torture survivors, single mothers and minority groups, the research reveals. Amnesty’s chief of refugee and migrant rights, Sherif Elsayed-Ali, stresses Syria’s refugees are ordinary people whose lives have been shattered by conflict. “Many of them have been through hell, they have endured heart-breaking ordeals and face daily struggles in their current lives,” he says. He adds governments must not turn “their backs on vulnerable refugees.”

The UNHCR estimates almost 380,000 Syrians are in desperate need of resettlement. Meanwhile, Amnesty says 5,000 people flee Syria every day in desperate circumstances – 75 percent of whom are women and children. Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt host 95 percent of Syria’s refugees. But as the war-torn country’s bloody crisis approaches its fifth year, these neighboring states are struggling to cope. Wealthy nations have offered a mere 79,180 resettlement places to Syrian refugees – less than 20 percent of those who need humanitarian assistance.

Germany has set a positive example by resettling 30,000 refugees. Britain has offered a paltry 90 places, while Denmark and Spain have offered an equally miserly 140 and 130 respectively.

A group of prominent UK celebrities wrote a strongly-worded open letter to Prime Minister David Cameron denouncing Britain’s resettlement program for Syrian refugees, suggesting it lacks compassion and humanity. “In a climate where children are sent to work in order to help their parents survive, where young girls are sold off as child brides and where torture victims are unable to rebuild their lives, every resettlement place countries like Britain provide is a lifeline,” the letter said.

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