Friday, July 27, 2012

Op-Ed: Syrian refugee crisis is going to require long-term help

Amnesty International
26 July 2012

"A tense political situation deteriorates; violence rapidly escalates with dire effects on the civilian population – people are killed indiscriminately, property is destroyed and what starts as a slow trickle of refugees into neighbouring countries becomes a deluge.

That was Iraq in 2006. In 2012 it is Syria.

And there is a tragic irony because Syria is not only Iraq's immediate neighbour but also a country that was host to more than one million Iraqi refugees at the height of the displacement crisis.

It's not only Syrians that are leaving everything behind to flee the horrors of war. It's also the Iraqis, Palestinians and others who had found safety in Syria, now twice displaced.

I returned from Jordan last week, where I was looking into the situation of refugees from Syria. The journey out of Syria is rife with dangers. To make it into Jordan, refugees have to go through areas filled with Syrian military troops. Typically, the Free Syrian Army (FSA) escorts them while they sneak between military outposts and until they reach the Syrian side of the border with Jordan.

If they are discovered, and it happens, they are shot at with heavy gunfire. Refugees report that the shooting is indiscriminate; single men or families with children, all are targeted. That people continue to take these risks is testament to what they have suffered and witnessed.

UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, has so far registered more than 35,000 Syrians in Jordan but the unofficial total is believed to be substantially higher......."

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