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

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital 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.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid