Syrian refugees: A neglected human rights crisis in Europe

One of the world’s biggest refugee crises of recent times is unfolding on Europe’s doorstep, but most European governments have reacted with complete indifference, Nils Muiznieks said.

Syrian refugees: A neglected human rights crisis in Europe

World Bulletin / News Desk

Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muiznieks criticised member countries on the Syrian refugee crises, while he was praising Turkey's effort on the same issue.

''One of the world’s biggest refugee crises of recent times is unfolding on Europe’s doorstep, but most European governments have reacted with complete indifference. Close to 4 million people are internally displaced in Syria and almost 3 million have left the country since the beginning of the conflict. The vast majority of the refugees benefit from the hospitality of Syria’s neighouring countries, including Turkey, which have taken the brunt of this humanitarian crisis. As for the rest of Europe, the response has so far been limited to providing humanitarian assistance to some of these countries. However, when it comes to actually receiving refugees, Europe has been much less generous and often negligent in abiding by its human right obligations,'' said Muiznieks in his last report.

He went on saying: ''I could personally witness the extent of this crisis and the multiple challenges it represents for Europe during this last week, which I’ve spent visiting Syrian refugee camps and centres in Turkey, Bulgaria and Germany. More than half of the refugees fleeing Syria are children, the majority of them younger than 12. Several thousand of them are unaccompanied or separated, while many are not registered and remain at risk of statelessness. It is estimated that at least half of the more than 1 million refugee children of school age in the neighbouring countries do not currently enjoy their right to education. Although many are eager to study, the lack of resources prevents them from starting or going back to school''.

Instead, one in ten Syrian children is thought to be engaged in labour. Children who have barely reached school age spend their time on the streets looking for work every day and end up being exploited in jobs that often expose them to hazardous conditions. They end their childhood abruptly and take on the heavy responsibility of being their families’ breadwinners.

This does not need to be so. It is heartening to see how quickly children can start flourishing again, even in flight, if they are given an opportunity and if their rights are respected. I have witnessed this in Turkey, where education is provided in the 21 government-run refugee camps to more than 45 000 children, although access to education outside camps remains difficult.

In spite of the size and proximity of this human tragedy, Turkey is the only country to have opened its arms fully to Syrians in need, having received alone an estimated 1 million. This amounts to well over ten times the number of Syrians in all other 46 Council of Europe states combined. Germany, Sweden, and Armenia have also taken some steps to receive Syrian refugees through humanitarian admission and facilitated family reunification.''

Last Mod: 20 Aralık 2013, 17:01
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