News / Middle East

UN Asks West to Admit More Syrian Refugees

FILE - Syrians waiting for their appointments at the U.N. refugee agency's registration center in Zahleh, in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley. In Lebanon, Dec. 18, 2013
FILE - Syrians waiting for their appointments at the U.N. refugee agency's registration center in Zahleh, in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley. In Lebanon, Dec. 18, 2013
On average every week, 11,000 new Syrian refugees arrive in Lebanon.  As the flow of those fleeing Syria’s civil war shows no sign of abating, the top U.N. refugee official in Lebanon says Western countries must relieve the pressure and admit more Syrians.

Ninette Kelley had just one year as the representative of the U.N. refugee agency in Lebanon before the civil war erupted in neighboring Syria, triggering huge waves of refugees needing shelter, food and medical assistance. Nearly three years into the crisis, she admits one of the biggest fears is that spillover sectarian violence will engulf Lebanon, too.

“In regard to the spread of insecurity in Lebanon given that many of the divisions that are being played out in Syria also erupt from time to time and sentiments are very strong for and against Syrian factions, I think that is the great fear of Lebanon and I think it is a great testament to the country that it hasn’t exploded more than it already has,” said Kelley.

If new arrivals continue at the current rate, a million Syrians will have registered as refugees in Lebanon by the beginning of March. That represents a 25 percent jump in the country’s total population, straining Lebanon’s economy, its education and health systems and roiling its fragile sectarian politics.

Kelley says Western countries must help. 

“We are encouraging other countries in the world to come forward on a number of different programs. One is to relax their visa restrictions vis-à-vis Syrians. Two is to facilitate family reunification for Syrian refugees to join family members that may be in other countries. And three is to expand resettlement programs and humanitarian admission programs," she said.

Of all the challenges facing refugees in Lebanon, Kelley says the biggest is shelter.

“Shelter is a huge challenge. We have 65 percent of refugees renting something kind of accommodation and many of them are doubling and tripling up in a single-bedroom apartment. And then we have over 30 percent of refugees who are living in very insecure situations - tents, unfinished buildings, garages, warehouses," said Kelley.

Forty-five-year-old Saha, who fled the Syrian city of Homs five months ago, is one of those in insecure accommodation. She, her daughter and son, and his son’s wife and baby live in a tiny makeshift one-room house in the northern Lebanese town of Tripoli. She does not know where she will find next month’s rent money - $200 - or another $100 owed on last month’s rent.

“The owner is a gentleman that reminds us of the money but doesn’t push us too much. The owner has said he wants the money by next month. He says you are Syrian refugees and I really hope you find a way to pay me the money,” said Saha.

Saha is not alone - most refugees cite housing as their number one problem. The U.N.’s Kelley has been pressing the Lebanese authorities for months to agree to the building of managed refugee camps, but says it has been hard to secure agreement.

“All policy decisions have to be reached by consensus and that is very difficult to obtain around the Cabinet table.”

Negotiations are painstaking and protracted, but Kelley said she is not giving up.

You May Like

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land In French Port

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching 'Fortress Europe' More

Video Westgate Mall Attack Survivors Confront Painful Memories

On anniversary of terror attack, survivors discuss how they have coped with trauma they experienced that day More

New Hints That Dark Matter Exists

New evidence from International Space Station hints at existence of dark matter and dark energy More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calaisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 19, 2014 5:04 PM
The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video CERN Accelerator Back in Business

The long upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider is over. The scientific instrument responsible for the discovery of the Higgs boson -- the so-called "God particle" -- is being brought up to speed in time for this month's 60th anniversary of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known by its French acronym CERN. Physicists hope the accelerator will help them uncover more secrets about the origins of the universe. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid