Ministers from four countries neighboring Syria are appealing for stronger international support to help them care for nearly two million Syrian refugees. The officials from Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey warn they soon will reach the limit of their ability to assist the refugees without outside help.
U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres, who hosted the ministerial meeting, is calling on the international community to assume greater responsibility for taking care of displaced Syrians.
He said Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Turkey are paying a heavy price. “The impact of such a large number of refugees on their economies, on their societies; the impact of a conflict next door on their national security is something that needs to be fully recognized by the international community.”
Still, the ministers promised not to close their borders to newly arriving refugees.
Lebanon’s Minister of Social Affairs, Wael Abi Faour, said his country, which has some 720,000 Syrian refugees, was committed to protecting them.
“To be honest, I also have to say that the situation in Lebanon is becoming very alarming. It is becoming very alarming on the security level, on the social level. It is becoming very alarming on the economic level, and it is becoming very alarming on the demographic level. And, I think that so far, the response of the International community to this crisis is frustrating,” said Faour.
Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh said the more than half-million refugees living in his country was having a devastating impact.
“The magnitude of this humanitarian crisis has proven to be beyond the ability of any country to deal with. And Jordan, where the population is 6 million people, to host 586,000 Syrian refugees as of yesterday morning… is not only a threat to our very existence, but it is something that is presenting more challenges to an already challenged economy,” said Judeh.
Echoing statements from U.N. leaders, the ministers said a political solution was urgently needed to end the fighting in Syria.
Syrian refugee children look at their Korean taekwondo instructor at Zaatari refugee camp near Mafraq, Jordan, Sept. 17, 2013.
Migrants arrive by rescue boat with a group that includes Syrian refugees, Pozzallo harbor, Sicily, Sept. 17, 2013.
A Syrian refugee shows her immigration papers before boarding a flight to Germany for temporary relocation, at Rafik Hariri International Airport in Beirut, Lebanon, Sept. 11, 2013.
Mustafa Abu Bekir is carried on the shoulder of a relative as he arrives at the Turkish Cilvegozu gate border, Sept. 9, 2013.
A Syrian man carries his belongings as he enters Turkey from the Turkish Cilvegozu border gate, Sept. 9, 2013.
Syrian refugees gather at the the Turkish border gate at Cilvegozu, Sept. 4, 2013.
A young Syrian refugee stands beside water containers at Al-Zaatri refugee camp in the Jordanian city of Mafraq, near the border with Syria, Sept. 1, 2013.
Jordanian workers prepare materials to build the Azraq Syrian Refugee Camp, the third of its kind, near Al Azraq, east of Amman, Sept. 1, 2013.
Syrian refugee children stand outside their tent, at a temporary refugee camp in the eastern Lebanese town of Faour near the border with Syria, August 28, 2013.
A Syrian refugee girl walks at a temporary refugee camp in the eastern Lebanese town of Marj near the border with Syria, August 28, 2013.
Young Syrian refugees watch a news broadcast on the Syria crisis with their father (unseen) at their temporary home at the Al Hussein refugees camp in Amman, Jordan, August 29, 2013.
A view of the new refugee camp in the outskirts of the city of Arbil in Iraq's Kurdistan region, August 26, 2013.