Rich countries have so far relocated only a tiny fraction of the five million refugees that have fled Syria since the conflict began five years ago, according to a report by Oxfam. EurActiv France reports.
The British NGO has asked rich countries to take in at least 10% of the 4.8 million Syrian refugees that are currently living in the area surrounding the war-torn country, and has urged these countries to step up their action.
But so far, the world’s rich countries have only resettled 67,100 people, or 1.39% of all the refugees, according to Oxfam.
The NGO published its report ahead of an international conference to be held this Wednesday (30 March) under the auspices of the UN in Geneva, during which countries will be asked to prepare to receive more Syrian refugees.
As the conflict enters its sixth year, most of the refugees it has generated are expected to stay in countries in the region.
The objective of the UN conference, which will be opened by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will be to “share the global responsibility” of the refugee crisis, sparked by a bloody war that has so far cost more than 270,000 lives.
The North leading the way
According to Oxfam, only three countries – Canada, Germany and Norway – have done more than expected in terms of their efforts to resettle refugees, based on their economic situation.
Five others (Australia, Finland, Iceland, Sweden and New Zealand) have pledged to do 50% more than their fair share, while the other 20 countries examined by Oxfam all performed below expectations.
So far, France has committed to hosting 1,000 Syrian refugees, just 4% of the 26,000 it had agreed to host under the EU’s redistribution plan.
If the French government had supported its German partners on the issue of refugees, the European response to the crisis would not have been a failure, according to Philippe Lamberts.
The United States has resettled 1,812 Syrian refugees and promised to take in another 10,000, just 7% of the 171,000 that is considered to be the country’s fair share.
The Netherlands has also assumed just 7% of its responsibility, Denmark 15% and the United Kingdom 22%, according to the study.
Winnie Byanyima, the executive director of Oxfam International, said, “The countries with strong economies, with effective services and developed infrastructure could immediately take in 500,000 refugees, if they decided to.”
Byanyima stressed that one in five people currently living in Lebanon and one in ten in Jordan are refugees from Syria.
NGOs helping the Greek government cope with the refugee crisis have decided to cease operations for practical reasons, as well as in opposition to the “inhumane” EU-Turkey deal. EurActiv Greece reports.