News / Middle East

Report: Europe Turning Back Syrian Refugees

Syrian refugee children play with a soccer ball at the Mrajeeb Al Fhood refugee camp in Zarqa, Jordan, July 1, 2014.
Syrian refugee children play with a soccer ball at the Mrajeeb Al Fhood refugee camp in Zarqa, Jordan, July 1, 2014.
Lisa Schlein

A new U.N. refugee agency report finds some European countries are turning back Syrian asylum seekers and denying them a fair hearing to be granted international protection from war and persecution.

Based on the report's findings, the UNHCR officials are urging European countries to make sure Syrian refugees gain access to their territories, are allowed to lodge asylum claims and are provided with decent living conditions until their situation is resolved.

Nearly three million refugees have fled Syria since civil war broke out more than three years ago. Neighboring countries of refuge are buckling under the strain of caring for so many of the displaced, having reached regional saturation.

The Mrajeeb Al Fhood refugee camp in Zarqa, Jordan, has received about 5,000 Syrian refugees so far, July 1, 2014.The Mrajeeb Al Fhood refugee camp in Zarqa, Jordan, has received about 5,000 Syrian refugees so far, July 1, 2014.

The refugee agency says one consequence of this is seen in the increasing numbers of Syrians who now are seeking safety in countries beyond the immediate region. UNHCR spokeswoman Melissa Fleming says many Syrians are embarking on long and dangerous journeys to reach safety and in some cases to reunite with family members already in Europe.

Nevertheless, she notes, the numbers of Syrians seeking asylum in Europe remain small.

"In fact, they are miniscule," she said. "They represent only four percent of Syrian refugees. Just to put this into perspective, Europe has a population of 670 million people. [Compare] that to Lebanon, which has a population of 4.4 million people and has received 1.1 million refugees. That means that Lebanon has received 10 times as many refugees as all of Europe."

Since the conflict began in March 2011, UNHCR reports, some 123,600 Syrians have sought asylum in Europe. Most of these asylum seekers are concentrated in a few countries, with Sweden and Germany receiving more than half of all new Syrian asylum applications.

But Fleming says some countries, such as Bulgaria and Spain, have already closed their borders to hundreds of Syrian refugees.

"We also are disturbed by cases and claims of survivors of push-backs at sea in Greece that were turned around from Europe," she said. "There was one case in which survivors claim that their boat was being turned around by an official boat and in the process of being turned around, it capsized and many of the passengers died."  

Fleming also says Russia sent 12 Syrian refugees back to their originating country.

The U.N. refugee agency says Europe has been very generous in contributing money for humanitarian assistance to millions of Syrian refugees. But that it is not being as generous in sharing the burden of caring for these refugees on their soil.

The UNHCR is urging countries across Europe to implement a comprehensive plan to assist those refugees who arrive and to help Syrian refugees find legal ways to reach Europe.

You May Like

Israelis Quietly Expand Enclave in Palestinian District of Jerusalem

Estimated 500 settlers, armed or protected by paramilitary police, live in Silwan among 50,000 Palestinians More

Video US, Iran Face Similar Challenges in Syrian Fight Against IS

Both Washington, Tehran back fighters battling Islamic State militants in Iraq -- but in Syria they support opposing sides in country’s civil war More

China Boosts Efforts to Help Afghan, Regional Stability

Observers say China’s increased regional involvement are due to concerns that Afghan instability and the presence of anti-China militants in Pakistani border areas could fuel Xinjiang troubles More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Not Again from: Canada
July 11, 2014 9:45 PM
The problem of the European countries, wrt refugees, is not with the very poor countries in the Balkans, but the total failure of the rich states, like Norway, Sweeden, Denmark, Germany... for not sending their fleets to the Mediterranean sea, off the coast of North Africa, and rescue-ing the tens of thousands of refugees, that leave the coast in precarious boats, many of which sink, causing great loss of life.
The mentioned countries have glowing economies, good housing, good social programs, and rapidly declining populations caused by low birth rates, thus the refugees could improve the population decline in the rich states, a win/win for all. In addition, those mentioned countries are very liberal, of advanced social standards, they are the ones that motivated the refugee welcoming standards and feed the hopes of the refugee/creating the crisis in Southern Europe.
Realistically speaking, most refugees' end target countries are the Nordic countries, they left poverty/violence/lack of futures in their own countries, to persue a better future. Even many of the Balkan citizens are heading for the rich EU countries. So the UN blaming the poor European countries, that can't provide their own people, never mind thousands of refugees, is unsensitive and wrong.
Fix the problem, spare the refugees the ardous trek to the mentioned rich countries by rescuing them and sailing them in comfort to the rich countries, that is the wanted destination of the refugees, and not the poor Balkans.

In Response

by: 1worldnow from: Earth
July 12, 2014 8:41 PM
That's right!!!! Why don't we treat this like a natural disaster!!!!!! If this were a tsunami, then the US Navy, World help organizations, etc and heearts bleeding everywhere would rally together to help the victims of a natural disaster. To begin, I think the word "refugee" needs to be eliminated from the dictionary altogether! When there are families, women, children involved, they should be labelled as "HUMAN BEINGS!!!" There is the popular expression the America is the richest most powerful nation in mankind's history. Though I do feel that way, but anyone who makes that kind of comment about my country doesn't realize that America is great because "Bring me your poor, the tired huddled masses yearning to breathe free...." For every nation that is successful, this should be a requirement! That's right, the Rich may have all the money, but the Poor have the strength and courage to make any nation great!!!!!!!!!

We do not turn our backs on people that need our help. And we shouldn't be calling them refugees. Thanks Not Again, your heart is in the right place.


by: John
July 11, 2014 8:18 PM
The Syrians are strong anti-colonialists, yet they seem eager to colonise other states. That the Europeans should consider turn-about is fair play is understandable, especially countries like Greece and Bulgaria which were colonised by Turkey for so long.

In Response

by: 1worldnow from: Earth
July 11, 2014 10:30 PM
When politics and religion tears your country apart, and you have to find somewhere to bring your family, your children, then I would like for you to comment about such things.

But since you are comfortable, don't have to worry, and can cast these kinds of comments against those who obviously need our help, then keep on knocking them down! Anything you can do to help push the train of human suffering. Right on, keep pushing. Maybe one day you will get tired of pushing. Maybe one day you might actually care. Maybe.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid