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

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level More

Comment Sorting
Comment on this forum (4)
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.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid