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

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book 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.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs