International community must reconfirm support for Syrian displaced and host countriesThe international community must stand on the side of the Syrian civilians. This is the message of the Danish Refugee Council, which is one of the largest international organizations working both inside Syria and in the neighboring countries, ahead of the conference on supporting the future of Syria and the region. This includes making sure to uphold their right to protection, ensure decent work and education opportunities, commit to predictable funding and not prematurely start returning Syrians to a country that still isn’t safe.
The international conference, which is held in Brussels on April 4 and 5, is an opportunity to examine progress made on commitments made a year ago in London in February 2016, and to reconfirm support for Syrians and their host communities.
“States must recommit to their obligation to extend international protection to those attempting to seek asylum and reverse any trends to limit the ability of the Syrian civilian population to exercise this right. One way to ensure this is by showing solidarity with neighboring countries, where the international community must commit to increasing the resettlement of vulnerable Syrian refugees, as well as the number of safe and alternative pathways,” says Andreas Kamm, Secretary General of the DRC, who will participate in the conference in Brussels.
Another area that has been of great focus is the resilience and self-reliance of refugees in neighboring countries as well as the possibilities for strengthening the countries, who have welcomed millions of Syrian refugees.
“Access to decent work and economic opportunities as well as education needs to be improved for refugees from Syria in neighboring countries. Although progress has been made since the London Conference there is a need for much more to be done. Upholding refugee protection and ensuring the right to legal stay underpins these two critical areas. We need to work together with host governments to reduce obstacles to access work, education and legal documentation for Syrian refugees, including developing and implementing relevant policy changes,” says Andreas Kamm.
The Brussels Conference will follow up on last year’s conference in London where one of the aims was to secure long-term funding and multi-year commitments.
“Predictable funding generates long-term and thus sustainable solutions crucial for displacement-affected populations and their host countries. As the Syria crisis enters its seventh year, we must not lose sight of the many millions of Syrian displaced and their host communities in need of both immediate humanitarian relief and longer-term development funding,” says Andreas Kamm.
One of the major discussions in the regional dialogue on Syria concerns the matter of returns. With both neighboring countries and the US discussing the establishment of so-called ‘safe zones’ and post-agreement assistance, it is important to be clear on the legal and operational implications of establishing such safe zones and the potential human rights concerns and violations, which could arise from this and hold serious discussions on the issue of reconstruction.
“Planning for solutions from the outset of displacement is at the heart of DRC’s response to displacement. DRC’s programming is centered on strengthening the resilience and self-reliance of refugees and IDPs with the view of improving their prospects for comprehensive solutions. While DRC welcomes a discussion on solutions for Syrian displaced, any attempt to pre-emptively or forcibly return Syrian refugees cannot be accepted. We remind states of their responsibility to uphold the principle of non-refoulement,” says Andreas Kamm.