Syria's neighbours risk 'host-country fatigue' -UPDATED

Representatives of 28 countries and 12 international organizations discuss support for Syria’s neighbors hosting millions of refugees

Syria's neighbours risk 'host-country fatigue' -UPDATED

World Bulletin/News Desk

Jordan and other countries neighbouring Syria are approaching "host-country fatigue" because of huge demand from refugees for housing, schools, jobs and healthcare and scant resources like water, Jordan's foreign minister told a conference on Tuesday.

"We are approaching host-country fatigue in which the limit of our ability to address the needs of Syrian refugees is being tested and has already been reached," Jordan's Nasser Judeh told an international conference in Berlin, adding that his country alone hosts 1.5 million Syrian refugees and economic migrants.

The message was echoed by other countries being overwhelmed by Syrian refugees, such as Lebanon and Turkey, and by the U.N. refugee chief Antonio Guterres, who called it "the most dramatic humanitarian crisis the world has faced in a very long time".

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has called for stronger international support to deal with the growing Syrian refugee crisis as delegates from dozens of countries met in Berlin to discuss the stability of Syria's neighbors.

Steinmeier's comments came on Tuesday in the German capital ahead of the opening session of the Conference on the Syrian Refugee Situation – Supporting Stability in the Region, which is being attended by representatives from 28 countries and 12 international organizations.

Speaking as he welcomed Lebanese Prime Minister Tammam Salam to a special meeting on Lebanon, Steinmeier said: "Providing only humanitarian aid to the refugees is not enough alone, we have to also make particular efforts for the stability of the countries hosting refugees.

"This conference should demonstrate a commitment to solidarity - not only with the refugees, but also with the states that host the refugees."

"New humanitarian strife"

Turkey has warned the international community that new humanitarian disasters in Syria could erupt through the increased brutality of the Assad regime and growing threat of the ISIL.

Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Naci Koru said in Berlin "We are faced with the risk of further humanitarian disasters and continued large-scale movements of Syrians towards our borders.

"The regime in Syria continues to oppress the legitimate demands of the people through increased brutality. I am afraid that the situation will get worse before it gets better."

Expressing concerns over growing extremism in Syria and Iraq, Koru said recent US-led airstrikes against ISIL in northern Syria alone would not be sufficient to deal with the threat.

He said: "We need a holistic approach, comprehensive and integrated strategy. The central elements of such a strategy in Syria should be the implementation of no fly zones and safe areas. 

"Without these steps, it will not be possible to prevent large-scale refugee movements," Koru added.

An estimated 1.6 million Syrian refugees, including 200,000 who have recently fled from the border town of Kobani, are currently being sheltered in camps across neighboring Turkey, after a major attack by ISIL on the strategic town in September forced thousands of Kurds to seek shelter.

Koru dismissed criticism against Turkey over its alleged "inaction" in the ISIL-besieged town, assuring conference delegates that Turkey would continue an "open door" policy without any discrimination with regard to religious or ethnic origin.

"When ISIL began its attacks on Kobani, within a couple of weeks an additional 200,000 Syrians sought refuge in Turkey. This is more than the number of Syrians that all EU countries have taken since the eruption of the conflict," he stressed.

The deputy foreign minister added: "Today, the total number of Syrians hosted in Turkey exceeds 1.6 million.

"The cost for Turkey has so far been over $4 billion. The contribution that we have received from the international community -- only $250 million -- has fallen significantly short of our expectations."

Koru stressed: "The neighboring countries including Turkey, have, to date, had to shoulder an unfair share of the humanitarian burden resulting from the conflict in Syria.

“In a spirit of partnership, we are in need equitable and meaningful burden-sharing by the international community."

Millions flee conflict

Lebanon and Jordan have both recently indicated they need to limit the numbers of people entering their countries after fleeing conflict.

Salam and Steinmeier discussed the problems facing Lebanon - which has a population of five million and is hosting about 1.5 million registered and unregistered Syrian refugees - with members of the International Support Group for Lebanon at the German Foreign Ministry.

Diplomats estimate that Syria’s neighbor Jordan, which has a population of about eight million, is hosting up to 1.4 million Syrian refugees.

According to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 1,065,902 refugees are hosted by Turkey, 1,133,834 by Lebanon 619,376 by Jordan currently.

Ministers from Syria’s neighbors - Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey are meeting at the conference with the permanent members of the UN Security Council; US, Russia, China, UK and France, and leading donor countries like Canada and Sweden.

Germany has accepted 70,000 Syrian refugees and provided about €632 million ($800 million) in aid for Syrian refugees in the region.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 28 Ekim 2014, 15:04