Amman: The overwhelming scale, complexity and duration of the Syrian humanitarian catastrophe must not be allowed to frustrate efforts to reach everyone with the relief they need to survive and live with dignity. Nor is there any time to lose in strengthening the longer-term resilience of refugees and preparing for the hard tasks ahead in Syria, warns aid agency CARE ahead of an international meeting on the Syria crisis in Helsinki, Finland, Tuesday.
With indiscriminate attacks against civilians continuing and millions of people still trapped in hard-to-reach areas without the basic necessities for survival, CARE is concerned by a risk of international fatigue and feeling of hopelessness.
“It is all too easy to feel helpless and overwhelmed by the scale of the disaster, but no one has the right to give up on behalf of Syrians fighting for survival. No victim of this war should want for relief due to a lack of will or funding from the international community,” stresses Richard Hamilton, CARE’s Regional Syria Response Director.
CARE urges donors and leaders meeting in Helsinki to ensure the implementation of commitments made at the London Conference last year. At the “Supporting Syria and the Region” Conference in London, the international community agreed on a “comprehensive new approach” to address the protracted crisis. Donors committed to significant financial pledges and policy changes to improve the lives of refugees and host communities.
The promises made in London have the potential to make a significant contribution to improving the lives of both refugee and vulnerable host communities in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey: the three countries hosting approximately 75 percent of refugees from Syria.
However, as a new report “Stand and Deliver”, signed by CARE and 27 other NGOs concludes, the conference failed to deliver with regard to the core issues of the protection of civilians inside Syria and of refugees in neighboring countries. Moreover the humanitarian needs continue to rise without a commensurate increase in international support for Syria’s neighbors, including by sharing the responsibility for hosting refugees more equitably.
“Fully implementing the ‘new approach’ of the London Conference requires sustained political will, as well as sufficient funding. Now is the time for governments to fulfil the commitments made at the 2016 Conference, and place the rights of refugees and the communities that host them at the forefront of the international agenda,” says Hamilton.
More specifically, CARE recommends the following:
Ensure refugees from Syria have the right to legal stay, education and inclusive access to decent work and economic opportunities
Host countries, with the support of donors, should introduce the necessary domestic policy changes that guarantee the right to legal stay, quality education and livelihoods to refugees, thus ensuring the realisation of the commitments made in London.
All countries must strengthen refugee women’s, men’s, girls’ and boys’ access to protection by setting up clear, accessible and affordable procedures to obtain and maintain valid documentation, residency and registration. Legal protection is a prerequisite to improving access to livelihoods, education and other basic services. These legal protections should be equally extended to Palestine refugees from Syria.
All countries must remove barriers preventing men and women refugees from accessing decent work opportunities by addressing exploitation in the workplace, removing restrictions on legal stay and freedom of movement, scale-up efforts to support the development of micro, small and medium sized Syrian-owned enterprises, and expanding initiatives to create jobs for both refugees and host communities.
Donors and host countries should avoid creating a lost generation by ensuring that every last girl and boy benefits from quality education by continuing to open new places in public schools, placing more emphasis on ensuring retention and learning outcomes, addressing the worst forms of child labour, and providing sufficient opportunities for certified non-formal education with civil society support.
Donors should follow through on multi-year aid funding at the same level as 2016 and as foreseen in the commitments made at London.
Donors must continue to extend and expand bilateral and multilateral support to Syria’s neighbouring countries to ensure necessary policy changes are introduced.
Wealthy countries must increase resettlement to at least 10 percent of the Syrian refugee population by the end of 2017, in addition to scaling up safe and regular routes through other forms of admission, including family reunification, scholarships and labour-based schemes.
All countries must allow entry to asylum seekers fleeing violence and seeking international protection, and ensure that full individual case assessments are afforded for any and all cases, as a minimum where there is risk of deportation. This includes countries neighbouring Syria, in Europe and beyond.